How Khalnayak anticipates Raavan!


A remarkable moment takes place at the climax in what is otherwise a rather tame resolution to the film. Khalnayak of course is a very overt reading of the Ramayana themes but what is intriguing here is that it is Raavan who becomes the ultimate guarantor of Ganga’s (Sita) identity and also the one who restores Ram’s prestige and his, as it were, ‘godhead’. The film then ends with a joyful Ram suggesting more or less that Raavan can in fact become Ram. It is an extremely interesting series of twists that Ghai provides to the entire topos of the Ramayana. I have not mentioned all of these but let’s first move the history forward a bit. Isn’t Rathnam’s wager in his film exactly the opposite? That Ram too can become Raavan! We see during the course of the film how this happens but we also on the other hand witness a Ram (Vikram) who is somewhat chilling and even a little nasty. Ghai’s Khalnayak and Rathnam’s Raavan are then intertwined in very interesting ways. Ghai’s work, which I have revisited for the first time after watching it on its initial release, is easily his most provocative work even if it does not quite have the script to fully develop its subversive designs. This ambitious film is similarly the director’s most carefully shot work, often quite brilliant with its compositions, in terms of the framing and equally so for the contrast and hues but also for its sheer physical spaces from claustrophobic jail cells to magnificent horizon line shots and actually in keeping with some of its themes even an action sequence where the leads engage in combat suspended monkey-like from ancient trees.*

But let’s get back to the Ramayana and its reading in the two films I have decided to juxtapose. I have already written very much on Rathnam’s film and won’t repeat everything here but to summarize things briefly the original title of that film ‘Asokavanam’ should give us pause. Because we are ‘in’ Raavan’s world in that film. We look at world through his eyes. Ram is then the intruder in this world, not its normative center. Raavan himself is always a bit opaque in this film and here his characterization is perfectly attuned to the film’s elliptical story-telling (here the Hindi is more radical than the Tamil). Because ultimately the audience always assumes Ram to be the guiding star and if the story is to be refracted through Raavan’s ‘eyes’ we must be strangers to that world or certainly a bit unstable occupying it which is what Rathnam forces us to do. In other words we too intrude on that world much like Ram and then crucially we go over to the other side. By the end we are with Raavan, hoping for his ‘happy ending’ far more than Ram’s! This is why Rathnam’s originally intended title (at least for the Tamil version) was more to the point. It is not so much that Raavan is the (anti)hero here but that we are in the ‘sign system’ of ‘Asokananam’.

Ghai of course also has Raavan as his anti-hero but he operates in a more ‘traditional’ world which is to say Ram’s system. The film obsessively plays with the title and also keeps offering Ram and Raavan as mirror reflections of each other. There is definitely more than a suggestion here that Ram inflected a certain way can become Raavan while Raavan re-inflected can also ‘return’ to the abode of Ram. In this sense the hint early on should not be missed when a half-crazed Ram brutally beats up Ballu (Dutt) in the jail compound. Inasmuch as this sequence involves a great deal of violence on the part of Ram we are not very far from Vikram’s own characterization in Rathnam’s film. The distinction is that Ram in Ghai’s film eventually learns about Raavan’s story and becomes more sympathetic to him. We even learn that they have been childhood friends thereby completely the twinning that Ghai offers at every turn (eventually the ‘mother’ is also neatly divided between the two, Ram literally saves her life by the end with Raavan as spectator). No such possibility exists in Rathnam’s film. Ram here can never be a reader of Raavan’s story but the reverse is not foreclosed and Raavan dies greatly humainized not least for this reason.

In Ballu’s flashback we get a bold scene when the ‘khalnayak’ throws mud on his revered grandfather’s signpost. The family’s freedom-fighter. The ‘claim’ here is that more than one post-Independence generation has failed the potential Ram figures of India or enabled the Jekyll of Ram to lose out to the Hyde of Raavan. To this degree it is an inspired move on Ghai’s part to have a Joker-like (post-Nicholson) ‘villain’ for his film. Dutt in a sense becomes deranged once he goes over to the dark side and it is hard to distinguish within his performance the unhinged character from the one who simply plays this part. While Dutt is superbly charismatic throughout the film he is not enough of an actor to really bring out the nuances of this dynamic and partly as a result of this the film does not really achieve the emotional resonance it might have. Some of this is probably Ghai’s fault as well inasmuch as the ‘lighter’ ways in which the character is handled as a general matter allows the director to present a masala rogue type and therefore more easily digestible by audiences. In any case we have through the flashback the sense of an India having failed its Ram-virtues. Again we are not too far from Rathnam’s work where the emergence of ‘Asokavanam’ at the fringes of Ram’s order are precisely (and in theoretical terms) Ram’s own unaccounted-for excess. In Ghai’s imagining too it is a damning indictment of Ram that the nation became so hospitable for Raavan.

Ghai’s subversions are not limited to the Ram-Raavan interplay. I have already pointed out how Sita’s claim of chastity here really depends on Raavan’s counter-signing it (and of course here Ram unlike the original one never has doubts and/or is never ‘political’ enough to insist on a ‘trial’). But Ganga (Sita) herself sets out on a dangerous mission to trap Raavan to save Ram’s honor. This too is very provocative. For Ram to be ‘saved’ the woman has to go over to the dark side and come back unstained (and this perhaps complicated the reading I’ve just suggested). Note here how even in Rathnam’s film Ram never really has any doubts about his wife but uses the mythological ‘archive’ rather cynically to trap Raavan. Here woman becomes an easy tool in Ram’s hands whereas in Ghai’s film his righteous hero is never happy with Ganga’s unilateral decision. Either way the conflict between Ram and Raavan cannot be settled without the woman. And Ganga herself seems to be quite drawn to Raavan. The film insists on the purity of her spirit with respect to her original love interest but one could easily read the key song here (aaja sajan aaja.. with Ram in mind) as the sublimation of her desire for the ‘khalnayak’! The trigger for this segment is a Ram statuette provided by Raavan! In both Ghai’s film and Rathnam’s there is despite herself something of an erotic investment by Sita in the Raavan figure but more importantly a deeper ’emotion’ that comes about, that cannot of course be expressed other than in Platonic terms. Each film involves a key sequence where Sita saves Raavan and of course the later work does this in especially profound terms by having Sita actually shield Raavan from Ram (with the former’s blood eventually splattering across her forehead).

A final word on ‘Asokavanam’. Unlike the physical lair that Rathnam’s anti-hero operates in Ghai’s film (in keeping with his own history in this regard.. Hero being an obvious example) the ‘khalnayak’ is really not tethered to a specific place. In fact he wanders with Sita throughout the film across the Indian landscape. Ghai’s in masala mode of course but even in Rathnam’s film the ‘villain’ gets humanized only with Sita’s intervention. Or better still it is the love object that tames Raavan.

I should lastly stress the point once more that for all these remarkably interesting themes and for all rich visual compositions (not to mention the extraordinary set-piece dance sequences) the film still lacks deep emotional resonance. I have mentioned Dutt in this regard (and it is part of the problem that there is never real chemistry between the leads barring in a few rare moments) but it seems to me that there was something ‘unworked’ in Ghai as well. It is a more reflective film for that mode and certainly contrasted with the director’s history (for example a great deal of the dialog happens without a background score) but there is an element of ‘unease’ between the masala fabric of this universe and the quieter notes struck by the director. Nonetheless this a valiant attempt by a director whose career got truncated rather suddenly after this film in the face of the Yashraj onslaught. Ghai oddly enough got spooked out a bit too easily. Pardes, a film which otherwise did well, really marked the beginning of an end for him. Khalnayak perhaps marks the last hurrah of an older Bombay masala tradition. There was really nowhere for this genre to go in the newly emergent order of that period. And yet it is disappointing that Ghai could not frame a better exit for himself given the richness of Khalnayak. It is sadder still to reflect on the fact that even a film that could hardly be compared with the glories of the Bombay masala tradition is still quite enough to put all of the 90s and beyond Yashraj (and Yashraj-inspired) cinema in the shade.


Postscript: this is arguably Madhuri’s greatest screen moment. Greater even than HAHK. Because here the full range of Madhuri’s gifts, her incredible iconic appeal, her sheer luminosity as a star-actress, her mesmeric perfection as a dancer, is given greater expression than any other film that I can think of. In many ways Ghai was always the director most attuned to Mahuri’s ‘essence’ as a performer.

*Sadly both existing DVDs on it are somewhat inadequate. The initial Eros/DEI release is out of print. This was somewhat cropped. The newer Shemaroo release is even more cropped. Leaving this aside neither DVD quite has the clarity of image needed to truly bring out this film’s visual strengths. The Eros is probably preferable.

234 Responses to “How Khalnayak anticipates Raavan!”

  1. GhaiFellas Says:

    Satyam what a pertinent and sublime piece this is, needs more than one read to grasp the intricacies of glorifying Raavan and demonizing Ram. You have struck the right balance in praising Ghai and at the same time appearing to be apologetic in praising him, this bourgeois culture has made the wrong man the hero…..
    P.S.- kidding guys, this is Rocky !!!

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  2. let me post this on IBOS 😉

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  3. Michael Barbosa Says:

    Dutt “not enough of an actor” LOl, Lol & Lol ………….

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  4. I’m so glad to wake up to this. Khalnayak to me remains Ghai’s finest, if rather unintended, work. Ghai never really worked for me, his reading of masala was very surface… but at least he belongs to a generation (that includes the vastly superior Santoshi) that respected masala, even if never quite getting it ‘correct’, unlike the post-KKHH generation of Farah Khans and what-nots who can only ‘reimagine’ masala as spoof or parody, draining it dry of its more nuanced virtues.

    What fascinated me most about Ghai’s earlier works, right from Kalicharan and Karz to Karma and Ram Lakhan is his investment with Hindu mythology and its tropes. The great masala filmmakers did this as well, but Ghai to me seemed the most obsessed with it. The mother, in almost all of his films, was always the wager.

    Anyway, while Karma is easily his most enjoyable work, Khalnayak to me remains his richest. And yes, Laxmikant-Pyarelal probably had their best moment here, second to Khuda Gawah.

    Since I cannot fathom adding anything more ‘illumination’ to your fabulous piece, I should just add that even in Khalnayak, like Rathnam’s Raavan/Raavanan, the Ram character i.e. Jackie Shroff, is always at the fringes. He is never the ‘author’ of that piece. And yes, in both, the Sita ‘reads’ or rather ‘rewrites’ the text. Of course, with Pramod Moutho’s villain, Ghai adds a further interesting dimension to the national politics of the film… in that Dutt’s villain denounces a Gandhian father to ‘follow’ someone who atleast in his ‘posturing’ resembles a Gandhi gone over to the dark side, with the glasses and bald plate!

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    • fantastic comment Abzee. Agreed all round.

      Ghai certainly had an uneasy relation to masala. His narratives were always sporadic in this sense, You felt he was dealing with the tradition but also trying to go beyond it and never quite succeeding. But the investment in Hindu mythology does mark a significant shift and perhaps one that allies him with the BJP wave that was round the corner. His 70s works are in keeping with the dominant trends of that age but in the 80s he moves to a different space. And while the mythological tropes were always present in the best of masala Ghai literalizes them to a great degree. This is also analogous to what was happening politically in certain quarters. And there is a cautionary tale here. The epics of the tradition achieve their greatest force in the works of the 70s not in Ghai’s world! When the former presented essentially secular tales with echoes of the epic past the past was thereby enriched as the present was in more obvious ways. However when Ghai tries to fly to close to the sun as it were he actually secularizes the original sources and makes them reductive. In a world not directly informed by it myth works best in the shadows and not in any literal sense. This is also why the BJP view of the Hindu past is actually quite impoverished compared to the riches of this great tradition.

      But there is the other truth here that the Ghai world was usually not nuanced enough to handle all the contradictions and subversion of myth while the older masala tradition precisely got this right. I love that in myth or that in Biblical religions (and so on..) where the tradition argues against itself. In other words there is the orthodox hegemony with the insistence that things must be read a certain way. However there are different readings embedded in these very same texts that suggest something very different. The masala world was variegated enough to account for this. Ghai’s wasn’t.

      In terms of favorite Ghai movies I adore Vishwanath (above all) followed by Kalicharan. But Karz is quite superb too and has in that climax moment one of the best sequences of Hindi commercial cinema (also love the prelude with the murder..). But with the stuff beyond this where Ghai truly defines himself I find most of the works less watchable than they once were. I find Hero the most watchable. Karma is tremendously entertaining but this Sholay re-write is dark in ways I do not entirely appreciate which is to say a bit too much on the ‘right’. In some ways there is a clear line that could be drawn between this film and the Sunny Deol terrorist-obsessed ones of the 90s and beyond.

      The one thing where Ghai deserves total credit is with his grand dance sequences where I think he was one of the very important commercial directors of all time.

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  5. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Very insightful writing. Khalnayak gets the chracters of Raam and Raavan better than Raavan does.

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  6. vatikala Says:

    The real Raavan had already a very beautiful wife Mandodari who loved him very much. Thus Raavan ratherlusted than loved Sita. Leaving personalities aside, Ram has come to stand for something good and Raavan something bad. Raavan can become Ram just like Valmiki became a writer from a bloodthirsty dacoit. That is acceptable for the common public who worship gods and goddesses. But if one shows Ram as a sly character, the same public will reject it. Leave these puranas. Take the example of Bachchan’s fans, Sachin’s fans, Srk’s fans etc. They will not take even positive criticism of their heroes in good spirit. They will start attacking the critics for the sake of their gods. At the end of it, Raavan by Mani would have clicked if he did not adopted Ramayan and naming his film Raavan so explicitly. The real Raavan was a refined man of arts with lots of arrogance. Ravana Brahma played by the late NTR where B.Sarojadevi plays the beautiful Mandodari.

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    • The real Raavan had already a very beautiful wife Mandodari who loved him very much. Thus Raavan ratherlusted than loved Sita.

      Isn’t it a bit odd then that this ‘lust’ ensured that Raavan never so much as touched Sita even? And this is something that is common to all versions of the Ramayana, from Valmiki’s to Tusidas’s and of course as a virtue in Kamban’s.

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      • vatikala Says:

        How can you say that he did not touch really?

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        • abzee2kin Says:

          How can you say that he did not touch really?

          No one can… just like no one can say irrefutably to the contrary. Religious texts are not documented facts. My reading of it is only as good as the texts of Valmiki, Tulsidas and Kamban. And they all offer sometimes slightly, sometimes greatly differing interpretations. And it is really ‘interpretation’ that is at the heart of all religious texts and religious icons. There is no absolute ‘truth’… when one starts seeing religion and its token gods as ‘that’, that is when problems arise.

          I read the Ramayana and Mahabharata as fabulous works of literature, making us privy to the many different facets of human nature and preparing us in the process. I choose to read them, and glean from them, not worship them blindly.

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          • vatikala Says:

            If it is not mythology, but historical, then the possibility of Ravan touching Sita is more. Being Ravan, we cannot expect better behaviour from him.
            If it is mythology, then we can believe that all are pure souls including Ravan.

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  7. vatikala Says:

    did not adapt.

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  8. Excellent piece, Satyam. Vinay Lal’s piece, which I’ve stumbled upon in the past, is also a very interesting one.

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    • thanks Zero..

      the Vinay Lal piece is interesting but a bit banal at the theoretical level (I only mention this because he tries to introduce some theoretical registers here).. and some of the bits like the mangalsutra representing ‘woman’s enslavement’ seem forced.

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    • IAMTHAT Says:

      Interesting…

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  9. I should stress a certain point here once again. Rathnam’s radical move more than anything else was to change the very ‘space’ in which the entire story moves. In other words the difference between Khalnayak and Raavan is that while the former too provides subversive twists to the Ramayana story it nonetheless takes place in the Ram universe. Rathnam however puts us in the ‘Raavanland’. And here it is not just about having a part of the Ramayana take place in ‘Lanka’ but about the entire film being configured by way of Raavan’s value-system. ‘Right’ and ‘wrong’ (to use the kind of childlike opposition Ghai loves!) are then what Raavan makes of them.

    And here the Tamil is less radical for two reasons. First of all Vikram has a history here which connects his Raavan role with that genealogy. But even otherwise larger Tamil trends over the last decade or so but especially more recently with the Tamil new wave a kind of native ‘deranged’ type has been witnessed quite routinely on screen. And of course all of this in a tradition where the Kamban Ramayana counter-narrative informs the debate far more than in the North. Leaving aside the fact that the narrative and the performance are a bit less opaque here. I’d also say that Ram too works better in Hindi than in Tamil and in some ways Vikram’s Ram is better than his Raavan. I only say this based on what I believe Rathnam’s perspective is. Otherwise Vikram is supremely impressive in his Raavan part.

    Having said that there is far more ambiguity about Raavan even in the North than bourgeois religiosity would have us believe. Raavan is a kind of Joker-figure before the Joker, in other words a villain we love to hate!

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  10. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    All these theoretical points are moot in Mani Ratnam’s film, because things are so badly done. From where the story is based to what does the protagonist realy do to what motivates the characters..are all half-baked and confused. Of course naming the film Raavan was stupid. He should have focused on getting his ram and Raavan right, instead of the names. Guruknat Deai was not called Dhirubhai Ambani, yet everyone got the allusion. And no one had any problem in accepting grey protagonist who marries in order to raise money to start a business. If your characters are human, and the writing detailed, people will listen to any story you tell. People want characters, stories , moments, even style & attitude…but not just camera angles and costume design ( coincidentally, both Raavan and Guzaarish had costume design by Sabyasachi)

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    • “All these theoretical points are moot in Mani Ratnam’s film, because things are so badly done. From where the story is based to what does the protagonist realy do to what motivates the characters..are all half-baked and confused.”

      Well that is course your perspective. Not all of us agree! I think one of the things one has to foster irrespective of one’s opinion on a film is the sense of openness towards another reading. There is no room for dogmatism in these matters. And this is something that I’ve argued for above all else for the longest time. It doesn’t matter whether one agrees with my Raavan reading or not as long as one recognizes such a reading is possible and valid on its terms.

      ‘What people want’ is simply a statement about the box office. It has no validity otherwise. And again the point that I raise again and again and which no one has a clue on how to respond to is that given there are at least as many ‘great’ films in every industry of the world if not more that were not recognized as such on initial release, many of which were also savaged by critics, sometimes a director might simply be ahead of the curve. Maybe ‘people will want’ Raavan some years from now! It is precisely the audience that should sometimes be humble about its own limitations! Just because a Godard film was booed on its initial release does not mean Godard suddenly forgot how to make films! people sometimes just want ‘bull’! That’s not the intelligent director’s fault!

      Again one can argue against Raavan or for that matter Guru Dutt too (as I myself have in certain ways) or anyone else. But the terms of such a critique have to be a little more substantial. To say that Guru connected while Raavan didn’t doesn’t mean anything. I consider Dil Se and Yuva and Raavan to be better films than Guru but this isn’t something that the box office testifies to. So I am not foreclosing the idea that Raavan could be a failure. But I haven’t yet seen a serious case for this. and this cannot come about unless and until one recognizes the terms on which Rathnam is making the film. A critique can begin at this point but we cannot set up a straw man and deconstruct the film Rathnam just hasn’t made!

      getting back to my larger point there has to be an openness towards the different. There are very many films that I don’t like that I nonetheless take seriously. There are films that I judge to be ultimate failures that I still prefer to watch over many ‘successfully realized’ scripts. There shouldn’t be this obsession with coming up with ‘final solutions’ on films! Let’s decide once and for all whether a film is worthwhile or not. And let’s correlate this judgment with commercial considerations. That’s not the way things work in any artistic field.

      and by the way it’s not just some of us here saying it. There were a number of very positive reviews on Raavan at the time too (one reviewer called it possibly Abhishek’s best performance), admittedly in the minority but there was a fair number. This hysterical reaction around the film converted it into total rejection by everyone when the critical story was a little more complicated as was for that matter the box office where the film for the kind of box office disaster it was supposed to be did far better than the media would have us believe.

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  11. OK this might be offtopic…

    how the hell u get so much chance to watch movies and write all of this.. as to be frank i practically just doze of after work!

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    • One can either work in life and be a good citizen and with time a good family man and so on or one can be irresponsible like me and have a lot of time to think and write about Khalnayak! That unfortunately is the choice!

      Now some manage to merge their work and their true interests and that’s fantastic! We should all be so lucky!

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  12. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    For the record, I think Dil Se is Mani Rtahnam’s worst film with a very poorly written script and the worst use of songs. Of course I watched it, just as I watched Raavan. Just as I will watch any film that Mani Rtanam ever makes. But the fact is Dil Se is all botched up. YUva is botched up too, but still works quite well in parts. talking of dil se, what he was trying to achieve, he managed it so well in Kannathil Muthumittal, which in my opinion is his best along with Nayakan and Bombay. It’s got nothing to do with box office. For example what he was trying to do in Iruvar, he manged to do it better in Guru. Both were stories of a man’s rise and fall in the world of Business / politics ( In iruvar, it was the story of two men). He improved on iruvar in few as

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  13. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    He improved on Iruvar in few aspects, like not using songs in full in the standard Bollywood way and dragging the film down. But at the end of the day, Iruvar was a far superior film, because it was handling a far complex canvas, and it was not afraid to delve into the complexity. Art, politics, power, love… it handles everything with elan. It has great performances, great film making, great lines, great music. The problem with Raavan is that Mani started treating filmmaking like Bhansali does, think visually, think concept..and to hell with script dynamics, locale authenticity, chracter motivation. If ash looks good in a scarf, let’s give her a scarf. If Kerala looks likea god place to shoot, let’s shoot there. Since I have always have had one rambunctious song in all my films ( Rukmini, Ek Nahi do) let me have one Kata Kata here. Totally unadventuorous and lazy filmmaking. Both Yuva and Raavan would have been so much better films without songs. Prakash Jha can dare to do it, and Mani cant? I disappointed.
    it

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    • Utkal, loved your analysis…I think Satyam has done another posting on why Ravaan didn’t work
      (https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/why-did-raavan-failed-at-box-office%E2%80%A6-i-don%E2%80%99t-know-if-it-has-but-experts-are-negative-about-its-future/)

      As an audience I totally couldn’t see a POV…e.g. in Roja we see the movie from the wife’s POV. A little bit more of editing and reshooting some scenes would have gone in a long way for the movie’s jigsaw puzzle to fit.

      BTW see this one as well…very funny

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      • here’s the thing we all have to realize. There are only two options on a film. Either a very personal opinion that does not pretend to be anything more or a more thought-out position which can be challenged or not. It can certainly be both.

        The box office though is no metric of a film’s ultimate worth just as we don’t judge literary works by how many copies they sell! The box office just tells you where an audience is with a film (assuming it’s a level playing field for different classes, which isn’t the case with ‘Bollywood’). That’s it. There’s nothing more to it. At certain points in time you sometimes get the conjunction of a more intelligent cinema and the box office (say Bombay in the 70s, Kerala in the 80s, Hollywood in certain decades.. and so on). There are many reasons for this but in any case it’s fortunate when this happens.

        So yeah I know people like to watch Houseful more than Johnny Gaddaar. What does this mean?! People like lots of things. In the US porn video/cinema sales outmatch those for all other entertainment streams combined! What does this mean? Let’s go with the audience here also if we’re just following the money!

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  14. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    “I consider Dil Se and Yuva and Raavan to be better films than Guru but this isn’t something that the box office testifies to.” As if critical opinion and viewers’ ratings do! Now there films like andaz apna apna, Legend of Bhagat Singh, Iruvar, Kannathil..didn’t do too well at the box office. But check their average of critics’ ratings or viewers’ ratings at imdb. They will be close to 8. Not so Ravan , I am sure. Of course, even that cannot be absolute arbiter or the final word. We all will have out own judgments. For example, Dil se has pretty good imdb readers’ rating but I still consider it to be Mnai’s worst – totally fake, shallow and pretentious film. So there you are! Different reading !

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    • there is a difference between a ‘reading’ and ‘name-calling’! So far you’re just using negative adjectives to describe Raavan (and now Dil Se). I still don’t understand the basis of your objection beyond the fact that you didn’t like it. Much as with Iruvar you are throwing around nouns and saying it all works. But I don’t understand how and why it does!

      I have never been simply ‘democratic’ about judgment. We are all free to like or dislike a film according to our tastes and sensibilities but not all such ‘judgment’ operates on the same level. It’s not a free for all. I might not have much of a taste for Howard Hawks or Victorian fiction and so on. That is my prerogative. However if I then start saying that Hawks makes rotten films etc that becomes a different deal. Similarly I do not mind at all the fact that someone doesn’t like Dil Se but if one is going to call it Rathnam’s worst film I would suggest an education of some sort in cinema. This might sound very arrogant but actually it is far less so than your statement. And to be even more brutally honest about it if you think Rathnam operates like Bhansali in visual matters I do not find this to be a very literate judgement. Similarly if you’re going to say that Rathnam sometimes focuses just on visuals and forgets the script and so on I could give you names of dozens of legendary filmmakers who fall into that category. There is no necessity that cinema should operate primarily through scripts (understood in a traditional sense).

      Here’s where I think you are not identifying your own blind spot as a viewer. You want a story that can move you, for want of a better word a ‘humanist’ narrative. But cinema cannot be reduced to this. What Rathnam is trying to do in Dil Se or Raavan is vastly different than what he is attempting in Guru or Kannathil (though in this film because he has a touching tale at the center of things it is easy to miss his remarkable visual grammar.. there is a very different reading of the film that comes through based on the latter which cannot only be reduced to the humanism of its story or does not merely supplement it). If one cannot identify this difference one is simply on the wrong track.

      Again let me clear on this for possibly the millionth time! No one has to like any film or any work of art of entertainment. But certain kinds of works cannot just be dismissed out of hand. One has to make the effort to understand them for one and then figure out how much or not ones likes them. Even if one ends up disliking them one should at least be able to value the seriousness of the attempt. So if you like Guru more than these films that’s absolutely fine. My problem begins when you start suggesting that Rathnam has somehow forgotten how to make films when it’s Dil Se or Raavan! And this is where the dogmatism begins a problem. How open are you to the readings many have suggested here for example? Has it made you reconsider any of your prior pre-suppositions on Raavan? I suspect not. Just last evening I came across a negative reading of Black Swan where I found myself agreeing with the argument even though I quite love this film. This is all that I’m talking about. One has to have a little humility in these matters. Just because one likes or dislikes a film does not mean that all possible critical approaches have been exhausted. As a personal matter one still has a right to one’s opinion. I am hardly suggesting that one should absorb all critical opinion and then decide but one also does not have the right to dismiss all valid opinion to ‘save’ one’s feeling on a work.

      So there is no elitism implied in my response even though people sometimes weakly misread things this way. I am not about privileging a hierarchy of critic-priests here! All I’m asking is this: why do you insist on one and only one possible response to a film?! Isn’t my approach a more humble one? I am not stopping you from hating Raavan. I am only asking you to value my opinion as well and more importantly understand that there are some things that Rathnam is doing magnificently in Raavan even if one doesn’t like how the film goes. A great artist can create failures but those aren’t exactly worthless ones! If it’s only about subjective opinion you shouldn’t have a problem with anyone who loves the film but somehow I’ve never got that impression from you! So I think your claim fails even at this elementary level. But I’ve of course added another one where I am suggesting that one should be ‘open’ to different views, specially on serious talents, whether one likes or dislikes a film. Speaking for myself I just rediscovered Khalnayak on this viewing. I had only seen it once and somehow didn’t remember all the things I’ve talked about here. Not just this but I also didn’t have the impression that it was one of Ghai’s best films. So a lot of this depends on perspective and one’s approach. But there are no final opinions. Not even on the greatest artists. But yeah don’t tell me Godard does not know how to make a film on a poor day!

      By the way entire critical opinions on some very legendary films have changed over time. Yes entire bodies of criticism have sometimes turned over time!

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      • Satyam, the “lay” person, the “common” man or “aam Janta” (the words you don’t necessarily agree with) are not articulate or are not technically savvy as to why/what didn’t work in a movie. For a techy person like you, a statement like that would be just “throwing words around” without proper logic. As a patient, I can say, something doesn’t agree…stomach hurts. A technical person (doc/nurse) will know exactly what is wrong looking/knowing the symtomps. Ravaan didn’t work for me. Why? I may not be able to totally articulate to you why. It was the “bak-bak-bak” (why is he doing that? Is there a reason for him to say those annoying words). The black character is not quite black but really a grey character but that greyness is not founded properly…..audience doesn’t have the understanding whys behind those characters. Maybe Mani should have shown Ravaan to a sample audience before releasing it to wider audience. Once I got chosen for such a sample audience for a hillary swank upcoming movie. I told them that her playing a romantic lead, just didn’t work for me. So anyhow…unless I see Ravaan multiple times to figure out/pinpoint what didn’t work…which most likely won’t happen…because for me it was not worth repeating. SRK did a mai hun naa with Farah but for her next movie (TMK) he kept sending her back to the script. Actors (Abhi) should have that nose; sniff out the scripts that would “work” for him based on how well iched the characters are, how strong the script is. It is better to have few films that work rather than more films that fail and permanently ruin your reputation as an actor.

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        • But if you are a patient before a doctor what are you arguing about once the doctor provides a diagnosis?! Isn’t this the situation we’re in?!

          Again you’re confusing a number of things. And yes if it were in my power I’d ban the use of words like ‘common man’ or ‘aam junta’! Because I wonder what makes you the so ‘common’. wonder what the proverbial ‘rickshawala’ in India would think about your claim! Leaving this aside I’m not sure how many times I have to repeat this point but it’s perfectly fine that you didn’t like Raavan. You don’t need to watch it multiple times to change your opinion. All I’m saying is this: if someone else finds something of value in it don’t try to invalidate it or convert it into an elitist game. The box office argument is similarly a different discussion altogether. The multiplexes drive box office business in India and looking at their rates I very much doubt that the ‘aam junta’ is patronizing these establishments!

          Isn’t the ‘aam junta’ precisely the segment shut out of the Bollywood system?!

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          • “if someone else finds something of value in it don’t try to invalidate it or convert it into an elitist game.”

            If you liked it, I am totally kool with it, dude.

            I was more or less agreeing with Utkal and his review.

            Also if we (me and utkal) didn’t like the movie, then you should respect our POV as well 🙂

            The movie did have stunning visuals but so do Bhansali’s recent movies. Is having stunning visuals really the highlight of a good movie?!?

            Now there are movies like Iruwar, which might not be BO success but are critically acclaimed movie by EVERYONE. Not sure why would you go hoarse in screaming out the merrits of a movie like Ravaan just because it stars AB jr 😉 and doesn’t really have any other merit to it other than great visuals.

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          • I’ve already addressed all of this..

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  15. lavanya Says:

    Of all the hindi films maniratnam made Dilse is the masterpiece. It gives us a deep prespective of the two different worlds of the two heroines. It almost opened my eyes to look at things from different angles. I just cherish it to pieces.
    And all his tamil films are masterpieces. Iruvar is priceless.

    Like

    • Iruvar was simply beautiful poetry on the screen. It was 100% desi movie (no foreign stuff) with every character (even small ones) with such depth…great screenplay…great acting…great visuals…great songs…simply fabulous….breathtaking. Only adjectives. No discussions needed.

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      • in fact most of Rathnam’s most ambitious films since the 90s have actually not worked!

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        • “not worked”?

          How? BO vice? Is BO success all that matters?

          Iruwar was critically acclaimed. Here in India and outside too.

          When product is good, everyone will say so. Even if there may not be lot of buyers to it.

          This may not be true of Ravaan. The product simply was not good. The best part of the movie was stunning visuals. The actors were screaming their lines or banging their heads for no apparent reasons. If you get me people who say that they liked the movie…and it worked for them, then they must be lying or paid by Mani or AB camp…LOL

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          • “When product is good, everyone will say so.”

            not really! In fact the very opposite has happened with many great films not just in India but also in Hollywood. Iruvar was really acclaimed after the fact. It definitely got good reviews in some quarters at the time (so did Raavan..) but very many felt it was a letdown from Rathnam. Many were in fact even up in arms over Lal’s MGR. People felt there was a mismatch. Things look rather different now!

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          • oldgold Says:

            >“When product is good, everyone will say so.”

            Like Golmaal 3?

            Like

  16. I have noted ever since the film’s release that Raavan is in Badiou’s terms a kind of interesting ‘symptomal’ point for cinematic debate of all kinds and by implication cultural ones. The film did more or less as much as D6. But the latter never developed this kind of resistance. In other words with Raavan there is the strong sense that ‘liking it’ should be precluded. It is a film that ‘has’ to be buried. The box office failure and so on is not enough. It has provoked a certain unease which goes beyond the idea of a flop. Again people disliked D6 in equal numbers which is why the box office stories of the two films were comparable. But there has been a level of ‘excess’ with Raavan that I’ve actually found quite interesting.

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    • D6 for me was just not that atrocious. Actually I quite liked D6 a LOT. It may not have been a commercial success. The acting of AB jr was poor in D6 as well. But still the movie was GOOD.
      Ravaan: The common outrage is because I simply CANNOT believe that MANI SIR would come up with such atrocity!!!! End of story. My disappointment in him because he is master craftsman. I cannot believe a man who made classics (Iruwar) could have a movie like Ravan in his career-o-graphy!!!!
      Bhansali: The shock has subsided. Now I EXPECT him to make lousy movies since he has give string out those…but Mani…..it is that shock that you are seeing. The shock is beyong AB jr.

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      • yes but your ‘aam junta’ thought equally badly of both D6 and Raavan. The former didn’t do better than the latter!
        By the way Iruvar did not work either!

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        • Ravaan, Iruvar, Dil say: made by Ratnam.
          You got D6 in the scheme of things but it wasn’t a Ratnam film.
          The “aam” janta would have LOVED D6, had it not had Abhi jr. Believe me, in right actors hand this movie (D6) would have been a major-major hit. I can visualize lot of good actors playing that role successfully. Sometimes the script is good. The visuals are good. The plot is good too. But actor/acting is shoddy. That also causes a flop. IMO, D6 bombed because of Ab jr.

          Ravan: Even of some other actor took a shot at Beera, the movie might still have flopped because of its atrocious plot/screenplay/editing. However a better actor might have brought in nuanced performance to the Beera character (I can totally see Bajpai doing awesome beera or even nana patekar) and the movie could have gotten critical acclaim for at least the performance.

          Sorry Satyam: common denominator is your hero here. Please forgive me already for saying this.

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          • Dimps, this where the argument stops being ‘serious’. So Dil Se would have worked with someone other than SRK? Swades? Guzaarish would have worked with someone other than Hrithik? And let’s take this to the logical conclusion… perhaps Thalapathy would have been big without Rajni! LOL!

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  17. Swades was a good movie with one the very best performance of SRK. In this one film, for once, SRK ceased to be larger than life SRK and for a change he was the character (actor) in the movie. Same with Guzarish. Even though it was a flop, everyone praised Hrithik’s performance as his career’s best.
    Forget others..just conduct a poll on this blog and you will find people concurring with me on the AB jr logic.

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    • Dimps, the problem is you keep changing the terms of the debate. what exactly are you arguing about here?! You say one thing, then when I respond to it, you move onto something else!

      Everyone praised Abhishek in Yuva. That didn’t make the film a hit!

      And where’s your ‘aam junta’ theory with these other flops?! You said D6 would have been a hit but for Abhishek. My question: why weren’t these other films hits?! Since the actors were apparently liked in them!

      Again I don’t want to repeat everything I’ve said in this thread but you too have to develop some consistency. You just keep drifting from one point to another without connecting them in any precise way.

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      • Satyam,
        I totally understand your frustration.
        The central theme here is the duds were duds because of Abhishek and good films would have been even better with some other star in them. If a somewhat acclaimed film starring some other star flopped, BO doesnt matter, it still was a great film. If an acclaimed film starred Abhishek in a critically appreciated role, it still should have starred someone else as it would have been a bigger BO success. If a great director makes a film they dont like and is a failure, it could still have been saved by some other star.
        I hope this makes it clear.
        Do you really think an honest debate is possible here.
        Admire your valiant efforts but if you expect logic and coherence from everyone, only you are to be blamed. LOL.

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      • “My question: why weren’t these other films hits?! Since the actors were apparently liked in them!”

        Satyam…what I am trying to say, is actually very-very consistent to what I have always said. You twisted my words. Even if Guzarish/Swades were flops the actors/acting was critically acclaimed. Yuva probably was one of the exceptions as far as Abhi Jr. is concerned (I didn’t really care for junior’s histrionics in Guru). Mani worked VERY hard on jr in this role/character in Yuva. Why is jr not consistent? Why is he not a versatile actor? Who knows. Maybe he takes on roles that are way too meatier for his calibre. Maybe he doesn’t have the right director to bring out his chops (I think he and AB sr MUST work with Vishal Bharadwaj but I digress). There is a certain amt. of emotional intelligence, maturity to play a role like that of Beera in Ravaan. And yes, Bajpai would have been a perfect cast for it….alas he is not BigB’s son!!!!

        Like

  18. On the matter of poll, let me just say this – Just because everyone drives a Toyota, it doesnt make it the best car out there.
    Continuing the tradition of Gujju quotes. Khakhra ni khiskole shu jaane, saaker no swad.

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    • you’ll have to translate the last line. As a fan of khakhra I’m a little anxious!

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      • LOL!
        It loses its ‘flavor’ in translation but loosely translated it means a squirrel that feeds on khakhra cannot appreciate the taste of sugar.

        BTW, big welcome to the Ghaifellas! Saala nautanki!

        Like

        • LOL, on the last bit!

          On the subject of khakhra have you noticed the pizza flavored variety that’s been out for a while? Wonder what’s next?! The pizza one is quite good though! I tend to avoid the seasoning they supply in these packets. The salt is a bit much!

          from Khalnayak to Khakhra.. what a thread! And I decided to not provide a discourse on the latter!

          Like

    • Hasto tho nay vadi…hu aam janta wadi khiskoli chu…marey saaker khai nay shu karvu…its like that famous saying of that famously infamous french queen of go eat cake, when people were asking for bread.
      Anyhow, I was merely agreeing with Utkal and didn’t realize Satyam will jump in…anyhow, I don’t mind being “biggest dunce”…its quite ok…I have been trying hard to lay my claim on that title but Satyam wasn’t letting me have that prestigious crown.
      BTW Satyam, the khakra you get in USA grocery stores are NOT the real stuff at all (just like the tinned ras gullas can never be the real ras gullas). They are oil laden, fatty, terrible tasting. But knowing your taste of fake actors, I wouldn’t be surprised at all.
      😉

      Like

      • Can’t claim to be an expert on khakhra! The commercial ones I have tried are quite dry. Certainly didn’t seem oily to me. Obviously nothing commercial can be like the home-made thing but let’s say I’d rather have commercial khakhras than commercial rotis (most kinds). All this conversation has got me in the mood for khakhras!

        As for liking fake actors yes that’s unfortunately a disease which puts me in a group with Mani Rathnam and Rakeysh Mehra (and many other esteemed directors) and excludes me from the more prestigious group that includes Dimps (and some other such enlightened souls). I have absolutely no defense for myself here. After all what does the director of Iruvar know about actors?

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        • ROFL…LMAO. hahhahahah.
          Parva illay…I am going to find you a perfect Mrs Satyam. She will make you perfect little non-commercial khakras and she will get this ab jr. boot out of you real fast…Y…she will make sure you stop watching movies altogether and only watch her.
          LOLz
          Sorry…I shouldn’t have jumped on this Ravaan “debate” where only one opinion matters….PRO-AB ones.
          And Mani Sir should stop accepting $$$ from ABCorp and make movies that showcases AB jr in EVERY frame because he is no lallettan or Suraj.

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  19. alex adams Says:

    hahahahaha—-MRS satyam…..
    ROFL LMAO
    Dimps—u have stumped satyam there—think he should concede “defeat” before he is subjected to anything further ….LOL

    Like

  20. alex adams Says:

    And dimps–how do u know if he already doesnt have one….lol
    By the way, u dont seem to have made any headway in “uncovering” the details/whereabouts of satyam (inspite of efforts)
    Did u watch DMD ultimately to get the Michael Barbosa connection….hahaha

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  21. Dimps,
    If at all you are going to take up match-making for Satyam, you would be better off looking for someone who likes Satyam for what he is instead of inspite what he is.
    On a more general note, why do women always want to change the men???

    Alex,
    When one argues with a woman, one always starts from a postion of disadvantage as there is an unwritten law that supports women’s right to change the argument whenever it is not progressing favorably or pull out baseless,unsubstantiated ‘facts’ out of thin air without being challenged.
    This is something women have in common with SRK fans. And the reason behind that is hardly a secret!

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    • @Rajen: “for what he is instead of inspite what he is”
      See thats where men are so wrong. Now lets assume we get a film connoiseur (sp?) for him. Everything will be OK till a bad AB jr movie comes out and she doesn’t like it. Then a true villain like Shakal of shaan will come out of Satyam and marraige will be ruined because Sirjee cannot tolerate any criticism of his blue eyed boy!
      Rest of it “baseless,unsubstantiated ‘facts’ out of thin air without being challenged.” How sexist!!!
      ___________
      Getting back to movies: Night Shymalan made awesome movie called 6th sense. Super hit. Good everything. He had worked the screen play many-many-many time…re-writing it till it was perfect. RGV same thing. When they were new, they had passion, drive and desire to prove themselves (would hate to put Mani Sir in this category still maybe so). Once they were successful, they became complacent/lazy. Their scripts were lousy. The BO results were bad. The critical acclaim was missing. On the other hand say Vidhu-vinod-chopra camp, they made one bad movie (bobby deol was dhobi) and learnt their lesson and since then have given consistent movies by really-really working hard on the script….writing…re-writing. Rakesh Roshan too employs excellent script writers and works at his plots. if the foundation is bad, the whole house at some point will collapse. Plot is the foundation of a good movie. Ravaan and such movies had poor script at its core….even a mani cannot save it.

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      • Is it my horrible imagination or did I just read it being implied somewhere above that Rakesh Roshan’s scripts are better than that of Raavan!

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        • LOL,Abzee. I tried to ignore it.

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        • there are two issues here Abzee:

          1)If one is going to equate everything with the box office this kind of conclusion is easily reached.

          2)but also if one decides to be completely confident of what one does not know and therefore should have more humility about these sorts of thoughts come out in abundance.

          In some ways this is a symptom of the failure of a film culture in India. Which is to say a serious critical apparatus. Therefore these kinds of opinions in different forms appear in all the media outlets. And people online get their cues from these. A lot of these statements seem appalling except that similar ones appear all over the place. But yes online people feel that a lack of understanding in these matters can simply be substituted with ‘attitude’. And it works in a certain sense. Because one can be engaged in a silly exchange, have 100 comments over it but there is no purpose served except for cluttering the blog.

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          • Sorry for cluttering your blog Satyam. I will say only one thing in my defense for your statement

            “Therefore these kinds of opinions in different forms appear in all the media outlets. And people online get their cues from these”

            The whole “analysis” I did was my own!! The entire credit for it goes to me (lol). I tend not to read too much (reviews/online analysis blah…blah) other than some gossip here and there. These days a lot on your blog but otherwise I am not and I don’t possess any intellect to dissect the movies technically. I am the “aam” janta who watches movies ONLY for entertainment. My mind is not pre-determined about the actor/director. So I am not biased or prejudiced or jaundiced with my opinion (negative or positive). What I have seen is you have given unconditional support/love to junior and can see no wrong. I may love Mani to death but have no hesitation in rolling my eyes at movies that were totally duds (and I don’t mean BO duds). I don’t mind clapping for AB junior in future even if I have been throwing lot of brickbats at him right now. My opinion is dynamic but yours is static, unchaning and unwilling to accept others view points. I am not humble because I don’t accept what you are saying and don’t see merit in your pro-xxxx arguements. So be it!!!

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        • i guess i read it more as like this:-

          rakesh roshan scripts : lacks vision and dynamism, but at same time are audience and common man friendly.

          mani sir- well hes a visionary… imo

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  22. Alex adams Says:

    Think satyam is still “tackling” mrs satyam and Dimps !!
    Suspect he will be off-air for sometime now… Good nite folks hahaha

    Like

  23. Alex adams Says:

    “Now lets assume we get a film connoiseur (sp?) for him. Everything will be OK till a bad AB jr movie comes out and she doesn’t like it”
    Hahaha
    Seems Dimps is hellbent not only in doing an ” Osama ” on satyam ie track him down but also in getting him hooked !!!!
    Interesting times ahead– watch the space lol

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  24. Alex adams Says:

    Just to add– suspect satyam has found his “match ” here lol
    Cmon Dimps — go for it!!!

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    • the thing is Alex that if one wants to keep things sane one has to learn to withdraw in time.

      I have a feeling I’m going to regret using that phrase with you around!

      Like

  25. Re: one has to learn to withdraw in time.

    Yup,Satyam. Unfortunate choice of words.
    Alex can go to town with his take on Coitus Interruptus.

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  26. Alex adams Says:

    Lol satyam is now getting into “sticky” wicket– pun intended.
    We don’t mind him using “coitus interruptus” as long as the other “party” is fine with it. Also, by mentioning “withdrawal” himself, satyam has acknowledged and admitted “insertion” .
    Suggest he uses more modern sensible stuff next time……
    Hope Dimps and some other decent people are not reading this about satyam……lol

    Like

  27. Amit kumar pandey Says:

    haha.. 😀

    i see double meaning jokes flying around 😉

    Like

  28. Alex adams Says:

    Amit — there is no such “double” meaning here. There is only “one” meaning!!lolIt’s all in YOUR mind….. Haha

    Like

  29. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    I dont see how saying Raavan or dil se are bad films equates to saying that mani ratnam suddenly forgot film making. Saying RGVj]ke Sholay or Jammes are bad films does not mean RamGopal suddenly forgot how to make films after making Rangeela, Satya or Company. It just means he made a bad film. Spileberg can make a bad film, Coppola can make a bad film, Woody Allen can make a bad film. Big deal!

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    • I think they rest on their laurels Utkal…just like Night Shyamalan and rest of them. Just that we have tuff time accepting it from Mani Ratnam because I love/adore him too much to accept something like Raavan product. It is like Einstein failing in math exam…well…bad analogy…because maybe he did….LOLz. Anyhow I shouldn’t create more garbage here!

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    • Utkal…you know…Ajay Devgan should have played Beera. I just watched “once upon a time in mumbai” and boy-o-boy, devgans got the chops. He has the charisma, the silent looks that cuts violently without firing any bullets as a mafia….he would have totally absolutely rocked in the Beera role. He could have brought out the chemistry and made the heroine fall for his “villain” beera totally convincingly, without any words spoken and even if the script didn’t justify why/what redeems beera so perfectly.

      Like

    • If you are a coppola/rgv/speilberg fan…then ALL movies of theirs is good movies…what kind of fan would you be to not love their movies and not love their products (dud ones too) unconditionally!!!! hmmmm
      For Raj Kapoor JMN was the most fav. because that one movie had bombed. So your love for director should surpass the hits/flops/good/bad. Otherwise you are not humble enough you know.

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      • not sure what you mean with MNJ. It was a colossal flop from which some say Raj Kapoor never quite recovered. It was attacked by very many. Since then it has become one of RK’s greatest moneyspinners on reruns and one of the very valued films from RK.

        The problem again is you just don’t know what you’re talking about. I could produce an encyclopedic list of films from many industries around the world where the films were mauled on initial release, were also flops but then over time were recognized as great films.

        I don’t like being so blunt but frankly you just don’t know stuff. And I’ve felt this in some other instances too. But at least where one is willing to show some humility the obvious need not be pointed out. The thing is it might seem ‘cool’ to convert everything into a joke or keep coming back trying to have the last word suggesting I’m an extremist on Abhishek or whatever but your lack of basic understanding in this matter should be an embarrassment to you. This will be my final word on this topic at least with you.

        Like

        • “The problem again is you just don’t know what you’re talking about.”

          And I am kool with that Satyam. I watch movie for myself.

          I am all heart and you are all mind and twin shall never meet!!!!

          I must be very-very stupid person to appreciate Iruvar (and I didn’t even know that it was a flop…I don’t care…don’t even care if others loved it or not) and not appreciate ravaan. I don’t even like poetry in real life. I don’t understand shakespear or truely don’t have poetic mind to understand Iruvar’s depth as far as poetry goes. And still it was the poetry of the movie that did me in!!!!!

          Ravan was complete B.S. for me and didn’t work. I may not know what I am talking about. Sure. I may not know technical stuff. Sure. I am very instinctive person. It is subjective…liking something or not liking something. Sometimes I do not understand Shakespear completely and I am still in raptures over him. I did not understand Ishkiya completely (all those dialogues/song meanings etc etc) on initial view but LOVED the movie on the first viewing itself and loved it even more when I saw it again. Same with Shakespear. I know “this is good” even if I cannot point to it why.
          Heroine falling for anti-hero is a very well known topic (forget ramayan). I saw Dracula and same theme really. The humanity of it; the tragedy of this villain and as an audience I got moved enough to understand why the heroine fell for this blood sucking “beast”.

          But Raavan…..I was disgusted by the beera and his performance and his “bak-bak-bak” which was truely totally meaningless because Beera himself was not quite convinced as to why he was doing it and why Ash is falling for him (just because her husband is mean to her in the end, she runs off to Beera?!?!? Where and how and when did she fall for him in the movie is NEVER quite explained or understood or known?). IN Bhansali’s Hum Dil dey chukey saanam, I along with Ash’s character fell in love with Ajay Devgan.

          The movie has to move the audience.

          people have to identify with Vijay (your iconic vijay) which “aam” admi did and loved/adored AB sr in the proccess.

          I could identify with Black Swan’s Nina on many-many levels and even though this highly sexually charged pschological drama is not really MY type of movie (just like Ishkiya is NOT), I STILL LOVED the movie and I could move frame-by-frame from white to the black of Nina. As “inintellectual” as I am, I STILL could get almost everything the director was conveying and was with it and in the end the movie could move me emotionally.

          I am not sure how you watch the movie. I am not sure if you wear evaluate-this-movie-technically hat for EVERY movie you watch. I don’t. I go for pure drama and entertaintment.

          When I watch AB jr on screen, I want to scream and yell at him for robbing off 3 hours of my life!!!!

          Anyhow….I still think a better actor (like Devgan or Patekar or Bajpai) would have been far-far-far more suited for this complicated Beera role. In the end, it is not Mani but the actor who failed as well to deliver. Combined failure.

          Like

          • Sorry to jump in here. Dimps, If AB jrs films dont do much to you? (unless you are talking about just this film in q) then why do you watch his films. We as AB fans, we dont need you to watch his films or understand his performance. Just like you said you DONT CARE if xyz likes or dislikes raavan, WE DONT CARE EITHER> Peace out.

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          • Dimps, it’s fine if you don’t like poetry or Shakespeare or Raavan or whatever. My point is very different. Don’t say the poetry or Shakespeare or Raavan are not worthwhile just because you don’t like it. This is a very basic distinction which is in my experience sometimes the hardest to explain to ‘desis’. I’ve made this very point tons of times for many years. It’s ok if you don’t like something. But you cannot then offer that as the only possible opinion when you do not quite candidly have the requisite understanding of the field. So if you don’t take to Shakespeare that’s fine, just don’t say he doesn’t know how to write. if you hate Raavan that’s ok, but be willing to accept that there might be facets of this film you haven’t been able to grasp or appreciate. I’ve pointed out many such examples in the past of important films which I don’t like but which I am also not dogmatic about. I still learn from the views of others on these films. Forget the box office, forget everything else. You don’t like a film, someone else does. It might just be a junk film but someone likes it whereas some other person does not. I love B grade Feroz Khan films from the 70s. Many might not care for them. But here’s the distinction. I don’t start defending these films as great works of art. So it’s not an ‘anything goes’ deal here. But when you have a filmmaker like Rathnam you have to take him seriously even when you don’t like the film, certainly in this (and ongoing for a long time) auteurist phase of his career. Just because you couldn’t relate to the film and liked other Rathnam films doesn’t suddenly make your opinion the most valid one in the absence of any other argument. at least one more sophisticated than ‘hey I watch films with my heart’! Well the male fans of Katrina Kaif watch her films with their hormones (wish I could be more candid than this). Doesn’t mean anything! So people have the right to watch films with their heart or other parts of their body. I don’t particularly care. Nor do I care at all whether someone hates or loves Raavan. But this is the kind of film where one has to take a measure of what’s going on whatever side one ends up on. Again no one has to do this. It’s not a test everyone has to take. But here’s the problem — you can ‘not’ like poetry for any or no reason. If you however say a certain poet doesn’t know how to write that will sound extremely foolish. Unless and until you can tell me ‘WHY’! There are great poets who’ve written very bad poems but one has to ‘know’ something about poetry to figure out the distinctions. You can’t go with a ‘my heart says so’ approach. Otherwise the lustful Katrina Kaif fan is right behind! Similarly it is not that Rathnam cannot make a bad film. But Raavan isn’t that film as far as I’m concerned. And even if one finds it so one should be able to understand if not appreciate what Rathnam is doing right! I would not make the same argument for those B grade Feroz Khan films. And ‘understanding’ doesn’t just mean watching the film again and ‘trying’ to like it. Not at all! It’s fine to revisit something but you can’t learn the craft this way just as you can’t learn raagas by listening to Ravi Shankar again and again. If a maestro like him has a bad day with a certain raaga you can’t figure this out just by being seated in the concert hall! You have to ‘know’ something about the music. So the heart takes one about as far as the libido takes Kaif’s lustful male fan. These are completely subjective experiences. we all react differently to things. That’s ok! But when it’s question of trying to figure out how Rathnam puts together that fine montage at the beginning of Raavan you can’t just approach it ‘from the heart’! So on and so forth. There is no heart/head divide here. The more one knows the more enriching an experience becomes. I enjoy listening to music of different kinds but I have very often wished I knew more about how music is ‘made’ to appreciate those works a lot more. So it’s not some dry analysis that is different from using the ‘heart’. It all goes together. And here when I listen to a Beethoven work I do not say that it’s ‘bad’ because five other works of his appealed to me and this one didn’t! The one I don’t like could potentially be the greater one, it’s just that I don’t have the tools to judge this. Which doesn’t mean I cannot keep listening to him. I just cannot be cocksure about my experiences. I can’t say ‘hey I don’t go to Beethoven for all that stuff, I just want the tune’!

            This is all that the debate is about. It’s a very modest one in fact. And I made the very same point to Utkal yesterday.

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          • The majority’s with you on Raavan. Why do you think it’s important to rub it in?

            For the record, I too am not a big fan of Raavan. And conversely, I find it tough to digest the praise that gets directed towards Ash for this film. I think it’s undeserved. Abhishek, IMO, wasn’t as horrible as you make it seem.

            If you are really sick of talentless actors, you should be going after Ash, not Abhishek! As it is, the poor guy has suffered enough.

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        • “not sure what you mean with MNJ.”
          The movie that bombed is like a child that was unloved or underperformed and therefore most loved by parents….something to that effect RK said in an interview. Maybe Ravaan will be MNJ for Mani. Labor of love but unloved by the world.

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      • oldgold Says:

        Several films which were flops on their release are actually much loved and appreciated today.
        Another film in which Raj Kapoor acted, and is one of my all time favourite films, ‘Teesri Kasam’ was a flop and ruined its producer who is said to have died of a broken heart.
        Today it is iconic with old film lovers.

        I’m sure Raavan too will impress a generation who won’t be influenced by his current status. I found the film very interesting and well executed (as per my tastes). Of course it has its flaws.

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        • Teesri Kasam is a fabulous film with some wonderful music. Have you seen Ray’s Abhijaan? The latter more or less has the same plot.

          Raavan might or might not be liked over time. It might always remain a minority taste. My only argument here is that one should at least appreciate what’s right about the film even if one doesn’t like it otherwise. On the subject of Raj Kapoor I am always deeply troubled by his Satyam Shivam Sundaram. A film which repels me in certain ways but also one which I have to take seriously at another level.

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          • oldgold Says:

            I haven’t seen Abhijan, but would see it if you say its like ‘Teesri Kasam’. And Waheeda is a pleasure anytime.

            Agree about satyam shivum sundaram.

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          • oldgold Says:

            PS: re: Raavan. I guess I’m biased there.

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    • https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/how-khalnayak-anticipates-raavan/#comment-91030

      Utkal the problem is (and I’ve noticed this multiple times in the past) that when you are challenged on your views and you don’t have any appropriate response you disappear, only to then return sometime later, either pretending you haven’t seen the response or picking it up somewhere else. So the latest such example is this comment from yesterday. Once you start responding to the older stuff I’ll respond to this latest comment, though in truth it is already addressed in the older one.

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  30. Satyam, It was an interesting piece and very well put together, Enjoyed it thoroughly. (On a side note – did understand it this time lol, maybe my command over language is getting better or I am gettting the gist of your writing – like to believe its the former lol). It has been quite sometime since I last saw Khalnayak, will revisit it this weekend. I have always admired subhash ghai’s work only until this one. IMO Khalnayak was his last best work or should I say he sold his soul to accomadate the KKHH types and go with the flow. What I have always taken from his films is that he has one simple rule (until Khalnayak that is) Clash 2 giants, add some great dialogues, good songs and an immense canvas to do justice to the giants he is clashing. Be it, Kalicharam, Vishwanath, Saudagar, Ram Lakhan, Meri Jung, Hero & Khalnayak. It has always works for him and ofcourse the audience as well. All the above mentioned movies were no doubt masala movies but with a certain edge to it. I hate to say this, but since Khalnayak all he made is duds, he compromised as a director to better go with the flow of the times, In ex: pardes, Taal, Yaadien etc. I think he should go back to his roots, hell, even remake his Saudagar with AB sr and Naseer. That would a fun watch. Wat say friends?

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    • thanks Kash.. yeah I wish Ghai could somehow get back to his roots. The return to masala in some ways offers him a chance but having not done it for almost 20 years I don’t know whether he can suddenly pick it up again.

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  31. Have to side with Satyam that Dimps is clearly overstepping the line in trying to enforce her view as the ‘correct’ one. It’s definitely the view of the majority, as far as Raavan is concerned. But, at the same time, the majority’s known to be wrong…at times. Though, I’ll probably side with the majority on Raavan. The film isn’t ‘quiet’ enough to give chance for reflection. The acting isn’t consistently good and the narrative isn’t gripping enough to cast a visceral spell. There’s definitely an interesting political subtext that Mani Rathnam’s trying to highlight through Raavan…but the subtext can’t really supplant the main ‘text’.

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  32. alex adams Says:

    Was trying to avoid “butting in” to avoid disturving this satyam-dimps (and now utkal) “triangle”—but here u are—–
    Agree that it is now difficult for ghai to do anything suxessful—think its less about “returning to roots” but more about “losing it”—
    There comes a time when ones taste, style and sensibilites just become outdated inspite of best efforts….
    Forget bout Ghai–those who have completed uni just less than a decade will be surprised to see how “different” the new crowds “stuff” can get…
    As for Ghai, i actually give him more credit..
    For all his cliches and “old school style”, he still had a sense of script, screenplay, flow. He had delusions of grandeur of being the inheritor of showmanship after Raj Kapoor—and this was partly true for a limited amount of time actually…
    Without fail, he had a v good musical sense and brought out the best in LP and even in ARahman.
    A case in point—even as late as taal and in Kisna (the one ARR song) were a treat .
    Khalnayak came at a point when Sanjay Dutt was as close to the no1 spot as he will ever be…
    Although he has bigger suxesses like munnabhi later, this was the pinnacle of his career (if there ever was) accentuated by the TADA controversy.
    Agree that Madhuri was much more than a contemporary heroine in this one and probably was the “hero” to Jackie Shroff..
    But the crowning glory of Ghais career was Karz and to an extent, Saudagar…
    Karz needs a writeup in itself and a “complete masala entertainer” with suspense, music, thrills, revenge, emotions and the works…
    The intriguing background score by LP, Kishore kumar at his best, “innovative” song picturisation was refreshing for that era….
    I viewed this much later than original release but was surprised by Ghais “grip” and “hold”.
    If there is any better example of an inferior copy, it is OSO to Karz (in all respects including the lead actor, direction, music…..)

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  33. The “reply” button is not there…so typing it here Satyam.
    I think you missed my point.
    Even though I don’t “get” poetry, when I hear it I appreciate it. Same with Shakespear. Same with Iruvar/black swan.
    When something is beautiful, even if the beauty is not your “type” or up your alley, it is beautiful. Therefore I like black swan, Ishkiya, Shakespear, Iruvar (these are NOT typically my kind of movies for one or other reason).
    A thing of beauty is therefore a joy. Universally.
    Ravaan didn’t work and I don’t think anyone saying it is “great” work of art is telling the truth….IMHO. It is possible that you saw “beauty” in sometihng that was not universally beautiful. And I am kool with that. But universally it was not a beautiful movie other than cinematography aspect of it. Everything was wrong with the movie. The ill-defined characters, the plot, the real life husband wife duo didn’t work on screen to evoke any kind of chemistry at all,….all this is universally agreable.
    If you liked the movie and were entertained by it and would watch it again and again then
    1) you are either faking it
    2) you are in teeny-tiny minority of population who appreciated it for whatever odd reasons. I really am trying to re-read and understand what you “saw” in the movie that was so artistic that I missed and maybe I could develop a third eye or a fresh perspective.
    For your sake I will try to find the DVD and give it a second look. But screaming Ash and “bak-bak-bak” is giving me a heart burn at the thought of second viewing…but for your sake…..I will. Lets see if I *see* something in it, inspite of shoddy acting. I don’t think I can change my opinion on acting though!!!!

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  34. alex adams Says:

    The first “segment” of MNJ dealing with a pubescent Rishi Kapoors infatuation with his teacher Simi was actually brilliant and oveshadowed the rest of the film for me….
    And it didnt look like a wannabe-East-european-Auteur film and this was creditable…
    This definitely was the most presonal and heartfelt film by Raj Kapoor and as happens sometimes with these “personal” films—the maker loses touch with the audience (of THAT time)—But that doesnt stop future viewers to assimilate what he/she meant…

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  35. Khalnayak happens to be the first hindi film, as far as I can recall, that I couldn’t finish in my first viewing. It was that bad. And at that point of time, I wasn’t even aware of world cinema.

    The film’s mythological overtones aside, it was so incredibly dull, full of Ed-Wood style overacting that it’d make for a laugh-out-loud comic experience today. I’ve never been a Sanjay Dutt fan, but after watching Khalnayak, I swore I hadn’t seen a worse actor in my life. I was such a huge fan of Madhuri back then, and even her presence wasn’t enough for me to sit through this monstrosity.

    If there’s any consolation I can take from my experience of watching Khalnayak is that I was completely wrong about Ghai. He made Trimurti after Khalnayak! Proving in the process that it’s very hard to underestimate a hack like Ghai. And apparently, he wasn’t done there either. Although I haven’t seen it, Yuvraj is probably his worst film to date.

    It’s really hard to fathom this is the same guy who directed Karz.

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  36. salimjakhra Says:

    interesting:

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  37. alex adams Says:

    To add another essential point about Ghai—
    Ghai apparently had a public fallout with AMitabh v early in his career.
    Subsequently, he had to suffer the ignonimy of being one of the biggest consistent makers and even “showman” NOT to have worked with the bachchan…
    He charted an “independent” chart working with successive Bachchan “pretendors/successors”
    from Anil Kapoor to JAckie Shroff to SRK down to Vivek Oberoi (sic!)
    but could never work with BAchchan..
    Personally found “saudagar” an unitentionally hilarious exercise and full of excesses—but showed his masterty over the use of “towering” personalities/dialogues, confrontations and music playing to the galleris–Actually he deserved at least a few film(s) with Bachchan at that time and would have worked well when the bachchan towering persona was at his peak—-
    PS–Dimps means well and has an interesting independent “innocent” voice–lol

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    • I’m actually happy that Ghai and Bachchan didn’t work together.

      Aside: Apart from his shoddy directorial skills (what skills, some might ask!), Ghai has always given the impression that he’s a lecherous bastard. His casting couch, given the size of his posterior, must have been king size. I’ve never been one to confuse an actor/director’s personal life with his work on or behind the screen, but he strikes me as such an amoral character, I tend to hate him for this reason as well.

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      • I don’t know.. always felt Devaa was an opportunity missed.. they shot 7-8 reels for it and Ghai had a new look for him along the Khuda Gawah lines or what eventually became the latter.

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      • Many a times, I have read between the line for this maker as well. But like you said, I dont care about their personal lives but this one kinda bites the dust for me too.

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  38. On a different Note: Satyam after reading this post, I would be glad to see you write a piece on Kalyug (Old – Shashi Kapoor) & Rajneeti. (Only reason I ask this because they are both based off of Mahabharat) It would be interesting to read and decipher your thoughts on both of these films. For me though, Kalyug works immensely. To begin with, for its subtle performances, Be it Rekha to Anant Naag to Raj Babbar to Supriya Pathak (she won filmfare for best supp actress for that one – not sure if they were biased then – they did favor artsy films in those times, which robbed Ab sr for all his awards, Wish that was true now, then I would love to see how many SRK and likes gets and How many Ajay devgan and likes takes away). Then the screenplay, I have always enjoyed its screenplay, Not a single moment in the film is dull. Love the scene, when there is a wedding in one of the rivals house and then right after the wedding both families get together and watching the whole event unfold on video, Beautifully shot scene where you know there is tension between two families yet they are all restrained from cutting each others throat. As I said many times before, I am bad in writing, I rather have you put in your two cents on this than me rambling on without making any sense. What say everyone (Satyam? )

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  39. alex adams Says:

    Since folks are putting “requests” from Satyam, I shall also invite writeups on Richard Curtiss’ ” love actually”.
    This is NOT a great/special film by any reason or standard—
    IMO in a strange way, has a sort of “interface” between hollywood and joharseque bollywood.
    Suspect it was “reworked” later by Advani as “salaam e ishq”
    Despite it’s naivety, there are certain noteworthy, even heart warming moments here…
    Can also be looked at as a case of a writer-turned-director that is too in love with his own script to make hard choices about what to keep and what to cut…
    Also a case study of how to overstuff an ensemble cast into a coherent “script” and (just about) get away with it…
    As pointed earlier–interesting to know who liked which particular “story” even from a psychoanalytical point of view lol

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  40. alex adams Says:

    Agree Kash…
    Sanjay Dutt is actually an effective, even instinctive actor. He does best in the “vulnerable but misguided” persona.
    His “naam” performance will definitely remain his best.
    esp the penultimate reels and the bachchanesque “dying scene”
    This incidentally was also the time when Mahesh Bhatt was actually v serious bout his job..
    Liked him in Sadak, Gumraah, Kubzaa, VAstav and last but not the least Kaante,..
    (more than the Munnabhai series where the films were better than him)….

    Like

    • Yup, Just saw kaante last night. I enjoyed it again. Many loopholes in there, But dont expect much from Sanjay Gupta. However, Movie as a whole works for me and mostly performances from Key characters, A la bachchan, Dutt, manjrekar.

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  41. I haven’t seen this film in a long while but at the time I’d seen it I remember thinking that it felt very much like they were scripting this as they went along.

    Nevertheless your excellent piece makes me want to revisit this film which given it’s Subhash Ghai is not something I’m very happy about!

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    • GF just read your brief piece on Kalyug, Really good work. Enjoyed it. BTW, if you read my comments with Satyam above, I too was intrigued with after the wedding scene. Which has always stayed with me. I couldnt express the way I wanted to, I guess you said it before I did and in much better style and to the point. Thanks

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      • Thanks Kash. Kalyug is an extraordinary movie. Probably my favorite Benegal work.

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        • I feel the same way about it. If not the best then top 3. Loved its screenplay, have not seen a screenplay so engrossed with its characters ever. (If i can dare say that)

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  42. Some of the arguments are juvenile and facile to the point of being undeserving of a serious response.
    Raavan is a Rathnam work that lays itself open to criticism and inspite of liking it, like Saket , I believe ultimately it is a failure. A rather creditable failure but a failure nonetheless. Am not sure how history and posterity will treat it. Even Abhishek’s performance can be criticised. May be it ought to have been underplayed. These are all points that can be argued and argued coherently instead of the rather ‘simple’ and artless rant that Abhishek ruined the whole film. Ultimately it is both the director and the actor who bear the responsibility for the character failing to work. I think the biggest ‘problem’ here was the ‘failure’ of Rathnam to sanitize the Beera character to suit the sensibilities of the bourgeois. And the multiplex audience. Rathnam even made compromises in Guru to make it more palateable for the fragile ethos of the multiplex audience and made Gurukanth Desai more than just a ruthless enterpreuner, But, he was in no mood to compromise. He kept themood dark and somehow felt it neccessary to and kept audience at an arm’s length from Beera’s character. Editing was certainly choppy and the story telling felt a bit jerky. There just wasnt enough redeeming quality to Beera’s character. And, the audience failed to identify with Beera’s character. Thats how I
    felt. But, that is not going to drive me to say that everyone and their mother/brother would have done a better job than Abhi.
    Someone whose answer to the fact that renowned and prestigious directors seem to favor Abhishek is that it is because they are paid by AB Corp is incapable of a meaningful discourse and undeserving of a sincere response. Pity is probably all they deserve.

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  43. vatikala Says:

    If a movie fails to get an audience, I think it is completely a director’s failure. Not failure of his her credentials but failure to connect the audience with his film. If the director thinks that he is ok with boxoffice failure as his artistic instincts have been satisfied, then no problem.
    But usually, everybody tries to dissect the film and point fingers at the director and the hero. If it is a hit, both will get credit at the expense of everyone else that are associated with the film.
    Raavn’s failure is director’s failure. Even if Abhi and Ash acted lousily, they cannot be blamed. It is the director who selected them. No one forced him to do so. The concept and execution of the film has its faults. The director seems to have been carried away by his own poetic license without keeping in mind the general public’s reception, especially in the hindi belt. And the hero’s, heroines’s shortcomings in the acting department were third angle to the fate of the film.
    And an urbane woman whose husband is a police officer, can at the most empathise with a wild character like Beera but not fall in love with him.

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  44. mirabai Says:

    Yoohoo Rajen, well said! And I hope this brings a closure to this rather,…how did you put it,….’artless’ debate. If one doesnt enjoy watching AB, fair enough, but why ram ones views down others’ throats. Because for us, he works…….. though not Beera(as the character was ill developed,IMO), so please, like Kash says, Peace out.

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  45. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Rajen : ” And the multiplex audience. Rathnam even made compromises in Guru to make it more palateable for the fragile ethos of the multiplex audience and made Gurukanth Desai more than just a ruthless enterpreuner”

    How making Gurukant ” more than just a ruthless enterpreuner” a compromise? We complain of mainstream films of not having enough shades of grey. And when someone does paint a character with shades of grey, that’s ‘ compromise’! Funny!

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    • I think you’ve missed Rajen’s point. He’s talking about a commercial compromise here. In other words if you show Gurukant Desai as simply dark and without redeeming features you are less likely to find a larger audience for the film.

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    • Utkal,
      I appreciate where you are coming from.
      The way I see it, and inspite of Rathnam never really admitting it, Guru was a biopic on Ambani. And, Ambani was ruthless. Very few humane qualities that I am aware of. But, Rathnam chose not to portray him as such. There was a love story here albeit beautifully portrayed.Gurukant Desai’s character was almost heroic. And, it made it easier for audience to identify with it. Grodon Gekko as portrayed in Wall Street was a symbol of unrestrained greed.And that too was based on a real life character of Ivan Boesky. Oliver Stone, however did not need to really soften the edges of Gekko’s character. But, Rathnam had to.
      We do yearn for grey but something we cant stand is ‘black’.
      If the intent was to make a biopic on Ambani, it certainly was a compromise. IMO.YMMD.

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  46. Brilliant piece there Satyam. Read the entire article (I rarely do it).

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  47. [“When product is good, everyone will say so.”

    Like Golmaal 3?]

    picking up on this Oldgold response to Dimps here as the thread cannot be extended at that point. Obviously I’m agreeing with Oldgold.

    First of all this sort of logic is circular. Obviously a film that is a hit has been liked by enough people. But this doesn’t mean it is ‘good’. This is where ‘democracy’ must be divorced from the ‘good judgment’. Sometimes people elect interesting leaders, sometimes they elect terrible leaders. Similarly sometimes people are just in a mood to patronize terrible films! This doesn’t make those films good. The problem is that we tend to work backwards on this. When a film is supported at the box office we find all kinds of merits in it and vice versa. This doesn’t mean anything.

    But here (and this is something I’ve said before) a further idea must be risked. I actually don’t think that people find all ‘hits’ good! In other words even the very audience that patronizes G3 doesn’t necessarily find it good. Note how you don’t get people to admit they’ve liked an Akshay comedy very often. If no one really likes them how do these films become hits?!

    It’s not just hypocrisy however on the part of those who watch such films and then don’t admit they like them. I think there is a distinction to be made here between enjoying something and finding it ‘good’. In my example from yesterday I ‘enjoy’ many B grade Feroz Khan films from the 70s. I don’t however find them ‘good’. So many kinds of entertainment functions at the level of a guilty pleasure. I often have moods where I return to Jeetendra’s terrible ‘Southern’ films or Mithun’s 80s stuff which is usually as bad! We can all put up with different levels of junk. Doesn’t mean we think highly of it.

    The idea that people go to the theaters to watch ‘good’ films is a questionable proposition. But they certainly go to have a good time. Which is something different. I have argued before that a majority of the audience that patronizes a film like OSO (including myself!) finds it ‘enjoyable’ but not ‘good’. A majority that patronizes RDB finds it enjoyable upto a point but definitely ‘good’. Similarly no one who watches Swades finds it bad, in fact a vast majority finds it worthwhile not enough want to watch it in the theater.

    Here we must also account for a certainly sociology. Why do people go the theater? The answer is by no means as obvious as it might seem. At the current moment (and for a long time) in Hindi cinema most people associate theater-going with having a good time (family’s night out, date movie, chilling out with the client, etc) and in essence ‘mindless entertainment’. They aren’t going there to ‘think’. So certain films are foreclosed even when the potential audience is convinced they’re good. The meaningful films that then work are always exceptional. Sometimes there might be a star’s overwhelming prestige as with Aamir Khan (but note how watching an Aamir movie has by now become an end in itself.. so don’t embarrass yourself at a social gathering by not watching his film!), there might be other factors from stars to the music and so on. The largest one in fact is that for mindless entertainment 99% of the time the same audience doesn’t mind something meaningful the remaining 1%. This way you can pat yourself on the back. You’ve done your duty. You’re now a good citizen. You even have ‘taste’. It’s just that this isn’t everyday stuff!

    And who are these audiences? The multiplexes drive the Bollywood economy. The biggest segment here and also the most dependable one (which is to say ‘review-proof’) is the 15-25 year one (it’s also the same in the US). Guess what kinds of subjects appeal to them?! There is then a younger demographic from roughly 25-40, part of it overlaps with the ‘family crowd’. Here again you have people leading more stressful lives than they once did, not only are they working more but even when they’re not they’re always aspiring to be better than they are and this adds to the pressure. Finally there are the greater social obligations. A whole newer ethic where those ‘lifestyle choices’ have to be reflected in everything one does. Once upon a time if you had money you bought the big house, the swanky car and so forth. Today however it’s not that easy. If you buy the Mercedes you’re a certain ‘kind’ of person, if you buy the Jaguar you’re a different kind. If you buy Land Rover it means one thing, if the Sequoia it’s another. If you go to a certain restaurant a lot can be ‘gleaned’ about you. This goes down to the level of every single thing one does. It is not just about symbols of well-being (if not wealth), it is about what kind of person one is. In any case these people then head to the theaters looking to ‘escape’ from all these work and social pressures. Again what kind of film helps them do this?! Then we have business clients who are now a significant part of the mix. Is one going to take a client to see Khakee or Hum Tum?! It goes on an on. In general you are looking at a multiplex segment that has good reasons to want simply escapist fare where no real investment is required on the part of the viewer. It’s disposable cinema. You go in for a couple of hours, enjoy it, you come out happy. You don’t think you’ve seen a masterpiece. The masterpiece is usually to be avoided! You can watch it at home when you have time which usually means breaking it up into pieces to fit the rhythms of your life etc! So the authentic film is disadvantaged in very many ways.

    What does this leave? Well there is nonetheless the cathartic element to cinema or people who watch films for socio-political commentary, who in a sense ‘vent out’ this way. And this is what used to happen say with masala cinema. To call those films just ‘escapist’ is completely off the mark because with those films you could never really simply ‘enjoy’ things without also investing in them at certain emotional levels. You couldn’t just ‘enjoy’ Deewar on the one hand or Piya Ka Ghar on the other. There was ‘loss’ in these films that couldn’t always be resolved even with the happiest endings. There were bitter-sweet films even when these were seemingly comedies. Not that there wasn’t pure escapist fare. But the dominant trends worked against these which is why the biggest grossers of the 70s were hardly ever purely escapist films.

    But consider what’s happened since? The multiplex audiences are by and large politically quiescent. Those who either do not care about politics or prefer it at an arm’s length. Why? they have the luxury of that position. if you belong to a certain class it doesn’t really affect you as to who’s in power! The audience that is affected has been blotted out of the Bollywood economy. Once in a while this segment shows up for a Ghajini or a Dabanng and we then see the results. But most of the time this doesn’t happen. So that more ‘political’ link to cinema is severed. Or better those who are interested in combative politics of any kind need not show up at multiplexes!

    In essence Bollywood is really a luxury item today. It’s the equivalent of going to a high end restaurant. And my argument has always been that this is something unique. Cinema is for everyone around the world, certainly with the leading industries in any corner of the globe. ‘Affording it’ is generally not an issue. It isn’t even one in South India where state governments have generally kept prices under control. But the Hindi industry has been just living on Mars! It’s a business model which actually aims to shrink the pie as opposed to growing it! so yes Ghajni and Dabanng might do more than most hits but we’ll still avoid those kinds of films or at least not try to tap into that audience! How great must the ideological over-determination be for all of this to happen?!

    For all these reasons and some more (even I have to stop somewhere!) things are the way they are. To indulge in platitudes then about how ‘people love a good product’ and so on is worse than obfuscation.

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  48. Sanjay Dutt was amazing in this movie.An outstanding performance. He outdid himself imo.

    Jackie & Mads were v.good

    overall a gr8 classic

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  49. “Similarly sometimes people are just in a mood to patronize terrible films!”

    I am TOTALLY redeemed!!! To me Ravan was in that category! And of course I am “juvenile” to say so and you would “obviously” agree with oldgold because old cronies stick together.

    I think this whole ideas of “multiplex” audience is B.S. And ofcourse THAT is so juvenile. But Naseerurdin Shah says so as well and I will stick to that as my belief.

    I don’t think Black Swan was entertaining movie at all in “multi-plex” sense. Who wants to go to see this dark movie after hard days work???
    It is definitely NOT entertaining movie for the age group you specified. It is one GOOD movie….EVEN I liked it for all its complicated/complex pschological drama.

    Ravaan: EVERYONE universally agrees is AWESOME as far as asthetics are concerned. Last night I was TOTALLY BLOWN AWAY by absolutely EVERY scene….what a awesome visual delight/treat. THAT universally EVERYone will agree.

    That the movie didn’t work, universally everyone will agree. EVEN on this blog. But yes, if you are a fanatic fan and will make a decision BEFORE seeing any AB junior movie and/or Mani R. movie “No matter what I am gonna like it”, then you will like Ravan. Its a forgone conclusion.

    As far as BO success is concerned: MANY_MANY things matter. If Ravan was made on a small budget of 2 crore it would be super-duper-mega hit movie. There are so-so-so many factors that make a movie hit NOT just BO collections. E.G. RA-ONE (or RA-1: random access version one of SRK) will have tuff time becoming hit even if everyone watches it because it is so bloody over budget movie. So I don’t get into BO numbers at all. I care less for BO and don’t lose sleep over it.

    Watching Ravaan again: I have to say this and this is reversing my stand on Ash. I think her performance is good. Forget those initial screaming scenes. More I think of it, how else was she to perform those scenes…other than scream. So its ok. I got prejudiced on just the shrill screaming. There are layers to her performance BUT she may not be as good as VB or MD still but she is good. Again where she fails…and where AB failed….would be another post…a more juvenile post from “innocent” dump me!

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    • “what a awesome visual delight/treat. THAT universally EVERYone will agree.”
      Director can fail but not Santosh Sivan….he still delivered. Cannot say the same for A.R. Rahman and Gulzar for this movie.

      Like

    • “I am TOTALLY redeemed!!! ”

      Not really because no one patronized Raavan! LOL!

      also you can’t mix Black Swan here because the Hollywood audience has a very different ‘sociology’.

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  50. Re: That the movie didn’t work, universally everyone will agree.

    Really?? Do you read what you write or do you understand the meaning of what you write???
    Anyway, it is a convoluted dishonest argument you are embarking upon fed by your dislike for Abhi which is fine but rather pointless. Every sentence and opinion of yours is punctuated by ‘universe’. EVERYTHING IS UNIVERSAL! In truth, nothong is.

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  51. Sorry, nothing is.

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  52. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Rajen, you forget, for millions of Indians, dhirubhai ambani is not all black. He created the stock market cult, bringing in millions of middle class into the market, making them millionaires, just as Infosys did for its techies later. He was a middle-class hero because of the way he fought the well-entenched elitist capitalists like Nusli Wadia of Bombay Dyeing. And by all accounts he was a loving husband and father. Mnai’s film brought all this out. Does he have to paint him darker than he is just to please the noir fundamentalists?

    In comparison, I can bet the real-life Nudaliar was much more black and ruthless than the one portrayed by Kamal Hassan in Nayakan. No one calls that a commercial compromise, right. In fiction you create characters that are interesting, and engaging. You don’t call that compromise. you cal it ART.

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  53. Alex adams Says:

    Dimps – good to see you reversing your stand on Aishwarya there—-it’s actually not you only. People in general have a problem accepting that a female with looks like this ALSO has an above-average grounded brain, acting abilities, oomph and excellent dancing skills.
    Good to hear u accepting your “conversion” there in
    Those lines below. Also inspite of her being a v good actress , I would not hyphenate Vidya balan with madhuri dixit every time– MD has got many other facets which balan is below par eg dancing capabilities so essential for a Hindi heroine. Anyhow gals to hear these words from u—
    “Watched Ravaan again: I have to say this and this is reversing my stand on Ash. I think her performance is good. Forget those initial screaming scenes. More I think of it, how else was she to perform those scenes…other than scream. So its ok. I got prejudiced on just the shrill screaming. There are layers to her performance”

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  54. Alex adams Says:

    As for “sheer screaming”, there is a cohort of heroines who have the unfortunate misconception that the decibels of the screaming is directly proportional to “acting skills”…
    Karisma kapoor and kajol (sometimes) are notable “culprits” there enuf to make one leave the movie midway just on the basis of the nuisance factor !!!!

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  55. “You don’t call that compromise. you cal it ART.”

    Utkal…total agree dude.

    Ravaan is not interpretation of ramayan..or Iruvar is not about MGR/karunanidi/jaylalitha or Omkara is not Othello or….I can go on and on. Black Swan is not about ballet.

    Movies can be inspired and taken from literature. When Ray interprets Tagore, then Tagore ceases to be Tagore and becomes Ray and his art….at least for me.

    If I were to watch Iruvar and start comparing it with MGR/Karunanidhi, I will simply kill myself…but this was not like this in real life…yada..yada. Same thing with Ravan and Ramayan.

    Watch the art for sake of art.

    Did the seemingly “black” character of Ravaan, really was able to vindicate himself and turn into a character that audience sympatheize (sp?)???
    What there chemistry and/or was the heroine able to fall in love with the seemingly “black” character? Was that convincing?

    All this matters. There is a collective majority that will agree that plot/character were not well thought out. I really don’t care for mud on face of character and it doesn’t affect the “bourgeois” part of my brain….really….just because you put black color on the face of actor and say “art”, doesn’t make it so! Audience is slightly more intelligent than that. Which is what I was trying to say…..juvenile, unintellectual….maybe so….because it is not a praise and a criticism….so it becames something I don’t “understand”. Hmmmm

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  56. Now…lets get to the point of acting.

    There is a scene in movie called Virasat (I think is the title of the movie). In that scene, Anil Kapoor’s character calls out to his wife (Tabu),” Gahana”….the whole audience had collect organsm….really….the chemistry or tension or WHATEVER you call it…its there….and boy O boy….Tabu runs up to her husband who had no care for her…THIS is the power of acting. There is no skin show or obvious sex. The exhale of Tabu, the anticipation as she climbs the stairs, the look on face of Anil Kapoor’s character…..indescribable….NO DIALOGUES NEEDED. Everyone in audience collectively has same emotions….men are with Anil and women are with Tabu!!

    Now lets go back to Ravaan. There is a a powerful scene bet. Ragini and Beera. Beera has his hands “around” Ragini….not touching her…yet encircling her. No dialogues. This is very important moment in the movie. This moment onwards, the things (supposedly should have) change. Beera is now attracted and in love with Ragini. This silent scene, where action/acting should have spoken million words…Abhishek…nada…nothing. Ragini…I could see the electricity…I could see if Ragini was with Devgan….things would have been different. Devgan can act this scene (and Anil kapoor and bajpai and….). Poor Ab jr totally missed it. He tries…not that he doesn’t try……poor Ab….he tries very hard……but he fails to deliver this scene.

    AND this is where other actors, such as Aamir Khan….do take after take after take.

    Mani as a director should have done this. Maybe he did it. Maybe this scene was the best Ab jr could do. Who knows.

    Well….this is my one “analysis”. As an “aam” junta….why this movie bombed…..take care of this one scene….and develop the tension leading to this one scene…..audience….wants it….expect it…..but couldn’t be delivered.

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    • Dimps, the problem is that you are in a sense completely beside the point when you offer ‘reasons’ for why Raavan didn’t work. Because your very simple formula is he ‘it is always Abhishek’s fault’ irrespective of the contexts! the rest of your comments are merely ‘excuses’ to advance this central claim. And it’s not just restricted to Raavan. You dislike Abhishek anywhere and everywhere. Let’s be honest about you really mean! Once you accept this (as you have many times) the rest of what you’re saying sounds weird. For example if I think Salman Khan isn’t an actor and if I then keeping picking films of his and say and that this or that doesn’t work because he cannot act I am going in a circle!

      Lastly to everything you say you add this ‘disclaimer’ — that you’re only part of the ‘aam junta’. You know what this says to me? It’s like SRK constantly saying ‘I am the king’. A real king would never have to say this all the time! In fact when real kings say such things pople wonder why they’re saying it! The worst thing Clinton did when his party lost the midterms in ’94 was saying ‘I am still relevant’. It is precisely because he felt irrelevant at the time that he said this. Similarly if everyone though SRK was the king he wouldn’t need to say it all the time.

      In your case your ‘aam junta’ label covers an anxiety. Firstly that you’re not really the ‘aam junta’. Or if you’re ‘aam junta’ I’m just guessing that every ‘rickshawala’ in India would like to be like you! The truly ‘aam junta’ of India isn’t blogging away all day long! But it also serves another purpose. You can advance any view and use that collective label to give yourself cover. What gives you the right to call yourself ‘aam junta’? Can you define this label? Who is NOT the ‘aam junta’? Is everyone from a bus driver to a bourgeois housewife (or ‘home-maker’) the ‘aam junta’? What do you mean by this?

      Similarly even in your comments you constantly shift between two poles. On the one hand you claim not to care about the box office but on the other hand you constantly resort to the box office (why a film flopped? what the ‘aam junta’ thinks? so on and so forth). And I’ll tell you why you need to do this. Because your dislike of Abhishek cannot really be ‘confirmed’ by anything else as long as it’s only a contest of opinions. But if the box office can be introduced you can say (not matter how spuriously.. that’s a different matter) that ‘see what I’m saying is right which is why the film didn’t work’.

      So I’d say that your entire argument lacks elementary consistency and probably integrity. there has to be an ethics of discussion. Let’s forget about Abhishek and everyone else. Let’s get this stuff right first!

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      • Alright Satyam. Maybe my use of “aam junta” is incorrect. Chalo. As an instinctive-viewer-who-doesn’t-read-reviews-or-brains is what I should say each time. I watch movies like a “regular” janta/audience/viewers would. Just with heart mostlyl.

        ” lacks elementary consistency and probably integrity”
        I disagree.

        “always Abhishek’s fault’ irrespective of the contexts”
        Not True. In fact, the whole time I am saying Mani Ratnam. “Mani as a director should have done this. Maybe he did it. Maybe this scene was the best Ab jr could do. Who knows.”

        “but on the other hand you constantly resort to the box office” Really…..not sure how. Iruvar is good movie (box office failure…didn’t even know). Ravan is bad movie (box office failure…not sure). For a movie to be successful at BO, other things than ticket sales matter. Such as no-cricket-season-shouldbeon or movie budget or marketing. So BO (for me as an regular audience) don’t matter. I am not sure how I was shifty on this issue.

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      • Agree 100%,Satyam.
        Thats what I was referring to earlier.
        Regardless of the merits of Raavan or lack there of, this whole diatribe is fueled by a visceral distaste of Abhishek and the argument keeps on shifitng to come back to the same point.
        It is like saying – it is Mani’s faault. But, it is really Abhishek’s fault- because he is a fake actor, chosen because AB corp funds the projects inspite of having less talent than Mukri.
        Often, people who dsilike Abhi cannot really pinpoint why they dislike – so the argument becomes it is becasue he has no talent, he is propped up by his father, he doesnt work out, he is lazy, etc etc.
        In fact, at a deeper level they are so uncomfortable with their disliking for Abhishek and reasons, behind that they cannot bring themselves to say -I just dontr like him. If they said that there would be no problem. Instead they feel it neccessary to resort to subterfuge and find ‘fake’ reasons to dislike him to justify their opinion and feel better about themselves. The whole thing screams of intellectual dishonesty.
        Unfortunately, they havent reckoned with your energy to fight this kind of behaviour. And, eventually the focus of the argument shifts to you and other Abhi fans.
        If one dislikes someone for whatever reason, they should feel comfotable in their skin and saying it without having to justify it. The ‘fake’ arguments tho just dont cut it.

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        • “Instead they feel it neccessary to resort to subterfuge and find ‘fake’ reasons to dislike him to justify their opinion and feel better about themselves. ”

          and this is something that has always interested me about anti-abhishek folks for as long as I’ve ‘debated’ them. That they never quite say the obvious. They will attack him in every conceivable way and even in some disgusting ways but they will never quite just put it very simply in the manner you’ve suggested. In other words all of this becomes symptomatic and the question then becomes: what’s the real disease here?! I’ve obviously advanced some ideas as to what all of this is about but at least part of it (if not the major part) is really about his ‘father’ or more precisely the ‘Bachchan’ signature. In any case these denials are interesting because the language used is almost always ‘code’.

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          • Satyam, Alex & Others, There is no need to justify AB jrs performance in Raavan to some people who are not willing to even look at it from a different point of view and rather just blow their own trumpet from the rooftops by shoving in their opinions and who have a personal agenda against jr. (As we know there are many of those). Just the other day, I was having a convo with someone about DMD and how it didnt work for them, he was telling me oh that scene does not work for me when Joki shoots Rane in the car, the car should have flipped at that speed, I was like dude really, is that your arguement for not liking the movie? and you watching indian cinema? That same person swears by kambakth Ishq type of movies how they work for him. So point here is the same, people who want to find faults in something they will argue without and substantial statements or without any legitimate reasoning, cause they are like a little child who wants their parents to give in to them, by throwing tantrums and repeating samething over and over. If for some reason a certain actors dont work for them, stop watching their movies, simple as that. But like I said earlier, there is private agenda against jr, which makes them want to watch it and come back with brit brats for him and god for bid if the movie flops..lol if that happens. Then we get over 140 comments on satyamspost. Its easy to say wish xyz was in that movie it would have been good. Well too bad, that xyz is not there so deal with this ABC, dont like fine, but DO NOT SHOVE IT DOWN PEOPLES THROAT that your view is correct and others is wrong. Just like I think “mona lisa” is the worst painting ever made, that does not make me respect others (BILLIONS that lived before me and will live after me) liking towards it. And, to rest this case, this comes from a person for whom Raavan does NOT work. Like I said, RESPECT other’s views. Peace Out.

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          • ” They will attack him in every conceivable way and even in some disgusting ways….”

            Yes. Just like there was conspiracy theory for OBL, similarly a conspiracy exists for AB jr (and the whole camp).

            BLAH to this “world-is-against-us” theory of bachchans. I hear Ash complaining in interviewings about this SO much that it is MOST annoying. If anything audience in India and world over have ALWAYS loved ab jr and all of them (wife, mother, father and even the dog shaunouk for gods sake). No one is ABOVE criticism. Not even bhagwan and certainly not Bachchans!!!!

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          • There is no conspiracy theory actually. there are specific ideological agendas which is a different thing. But sticking to the online universe someone like you proves it every single day! And I have been seen many like you over the years. But note how you pretend to not like conspiracies but are in fact the greatest conspiracy theorist around when it comes to Abhishek! So his father invests in the films, his wife helps him, on and on!

            Dimps, you really are at the wrong forum to pull this kind of stuff. We remember everything here!

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          • IAMTHAT Says:

            kash..

            >> who have a personal agenda against jr. (As we know there are many of those).

            Why you think anyone saying against him is some sort of agenda?? it could be otherwise also, defending him against all odds can also be Agenda..

            d arguments laid out for others can be labelled to you…

            if some hates him, give reason n same for liking him..but Agenda etc are all big words to hide one’s lame reasons.. I dont buy agenda’s…

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  57. lavanya Says:

    Ravan is average movie. Neither good nor bad. Mani took the maoist/tribal theme. It is fertile ground and offered plenty of scope to explore. But he failed to hit it hard or atleast reach the point home. Bombay on the other hand had religious fanatism as theme and it hit the bulls eye. I am always an admirer of Ravans love for Sita which is deeper than Rams love for her. But in the film definitely the love theme was not well established. Plenty of interesting scenes could have been made.It was a bit disappointing. the film had good action sequences especially the bridge scene. but nobody talks about them.

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    • @ IAMTHAT – Couldn’t reply to your earlier comments. So doing it here.
      If you have read comments above and many other places (not only on this particular post and this site, there are other sites as well) The way Jr is being hammered (negatively ofcourse), Is nothing but personal attack (His father finances his movies, his wife help em etc, he cant act for his life, he cant dress well, dont have six pack etc, does not look good, dont really want to spell out all the negativity that he has been getting, im sure you have seen it and heard it as well) – If the argument from all these quarters were even based on the character he is playing in a specific movie, then its understood (agreed dimps is just talking about raavan here, and my post above was not meant JUST for her, NOTE I DID NOT MENTION HER NAME THERE), I was talking in general. Yes, I agree that I did not give reasoning for why we like him, (which was not what was my post about anyway), But for me, I like the way he acts (should be a simple reason to like him – that is not a personal agenda to me) But, to go further and give you enough proof (of being a fan I guess, which is sad) Not speaking for all, But I like the dude cause he usually does something that is out of the norms, does not stick to something that works for him (see Boxoffice), In time when all the actors are busy building their abs, bodybuilding, dancing skills etc he goes out and gains a keg (big beer canister) for GURU and gains a few kilos for the role and stays true to it (as I see it). Fine, I may agree that he may not be greek god looking (what does that have ANYTHING to do with acting, I dont understand) but he has a pretty cool attitude about him and carries himself off screen with a certain X factor (which I dont really care about). I personally did not like Raavan too much myself, and I even think he was not at his best in Raavan as well. (So that also anwers that I am not just a biased fan either). What I was getting at was, IF someone has a view of certain performance and if it does NOT work for you, fine move on. Respect their views. BUT, if you keep hounding that no you are wrong I am right that his performance is BAD and THAT MY FRIEND I see it as a PERSONAL AGENDA. Hope that answers your Q’s. Peace Out.

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      • ” Fine, I may agree that he may not be greek god looking”

        I disagree….he actually looks much more handsome than AB sr ever did (inspite of the cross eyes in certain angles) in his youth. He has the height/body/looks.

        However in cinema, it really is not so much about just that. For instance look at Tamil Beera character (or SP in hindi movie). He has some raw, animal, passion, I-will-kill-you-junoon in him…from his acting….otherwise for ounce for ounce, both AB jr and Vijay (I think is the actor’s name?) look pretty much the SAME (except the mooch).

        Ab Jr looks better than most bollywood actors today..,,,in my books better than Hrithik/salman/aamir/srk. I would say he and Akshay both look quite handsome.

        I personally think he should NOT take on thespian roles at this very fragile state of his career and establish himself strongly, firmly in commercial hindi cinema (of DMD type of movies) and not worry about arty movies where his acting chops or lack of those will rip him apart!!!! But my very personal opinion….NOT imposing on ya.

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        • It’s Vikram. Vijay is a different actor.

          “he actually looks much more handsome than AB sr ever did (inspite of the cross eyes in certain angles) in his youth”

          now let’s not get completely carried away in the other direction!

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          • Bigb’s youthful look and acceptance by regular folks are things on which books can be or are written. A tall lanky leading man, with middle parting, with unually and weirdly long nose….I can go on. In my books, Bigb is not “handsome” at all (in traditional hero sense). Where as junior is very handsome but poor artist whereas the former was poor in looks dept. but made it up (and boy how) in acting dept.

            Of course MY personal opinion here.

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          • Vikram…ravishing…ravishing….man….at the end of the day the “failure” of ravan is in very large extend due to casting then. I can now totally understand why a real life Husband and Wife should NEVER be given such roles in movies!!!!!!
            If in hindi version, I am getting attracted to RAM/SP…it would be very-very confusing…for me as audience….for Mani Sir…it would be wrong results….LOL….LOL.
            In Tamil, the casting was perfect. Unfortunately I am going to get this very unavoidable (or should it be avoidable) Vikram fixation now for some time….arghhhhhhhhhh!!!!

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        • Dimps, respect your views on how he should concentrate on more commercially viable films to get a foot hold. I respect that, and that kind of gives me an inclation that you too want him to succeed and you too like him. I guess your frustration is at the fact that he did not live upto YOUR expectations. (Just my opinion) Its cool too, to each it own man. But, personally I rather have him do these “artsy”(if that term in Hindi Film industry still holds), Which sets him apart from rest of the crops. If he does same as every Tom, Dick & Harry, whats different about him then? The way you mention DMD here though sounds like you think of it as just any run of the mill hindi film coming out every other friday. (is that what you meant?). For that, I disagree, I think DMD was by far a completely different Hindi Film, coming out of there. It has its HERO dying before the CLIMAX, then I guess the Non-linear format of narrative my take your attention (yes we saw yuva in same fashion, but that was years ago, and not many have seen yuva – considering it bombed – I maybe wrong in my argument here, but that the way I see it). now if that isnt something out fo the box, then I dont know what is. There are many other aspects to DMD as well, But they were all well explained & in details by SATYAM, GF and others. Even if I try to I dont think I have the patience nor the resource to come up with a better piece on it then these GURU’s of writing. Peace Out.

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  58. IAMTHAT Says:

    “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.

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  59. I am going to respond to a Raavan moment Dimps brought up in her recent comment, the moment when Abhishek encircles Aishwarya and you have Ranjha ranjha playing in the background. I get into this for more than one reason. I of course disagree completely with Dimps who sees this moment as a failure because of Abhishek, in fact I consider it one of the great moments of Hindi cinema. But leaving this aside the scene is a good example of how one can start attempting to read a film like Raavan which isn’t story-telling in the ordinary sense. One can still dislike the film but one will at least have dealt with it on its own terrain. And I’m saying all of this for the benefit of those who are not as foreclosed about certain possibilities as Dimps is on all of this. But also because I did use the other day some rather strong language (‘illiterate’ for example) in a couple of responses which I normally don’t like doing. At the same time the other side has to exhibit some humility too. In any case this gives me an opportunity to get into what I meant the other day when I said that a film like Raavan or Dil Se has to be read somewhat differently.

    Despite my great fondness fro Raavan I have often had the sense reflecting on it that this is (was) really a work in progress for Rathnam. I was very disappointed when the DVD did not include any of the edited footage (and there’s apparently substantial stuff here.. we saw some of it in the stills) but it points to the same thing. Again if one heard Rathnam’s interviews at the the time it was again clear that he wanted a very elliptical narrative but also he was ‘struggling’ with the material a bit. I don’t mean any of this in the negative sense. I just think Raavan became in the filming a much moire ‘open’ work for Rathnam than he might have intended. And it became a ‘work in progress’ because Rathnam probably did not have a ‘final’ version on it. This happens much more in cinema than one might think. If Rathnam had been in the US he would probably have released a longer or at least different edit on DVD and probably would have introduced newer edits down the years.

    The best analogy here is that of Apocalypse Now. A film which did not do well at all on initial release, since then it has of course become a ‘great’ film, but also one that Coppola has obsessively returned to time and time again. He of course has enough footage to make 20 different films probably (!) but he keeps tinkering with the existing one. And so the Redux version had the sequence with the playboy bunnies, the plantation segment, then Brando is shown not just in ‘dark’ scenes but also in greater light, even bright light, and so on. There is no definitive version of Apocalypse Now because the director cannot imagine a final resolution for it. Again the common thing it has with Raavan is that Coppola too was working off Conrad’s work and hence he had a whole story before him. But he clearly struggled with the interpretation. Raavan is this sort of work. More recently Oliver Stone released three different versions of his Alexander film. It’s not just in cinema. There are works that are constantly re-written by authors. Painters written to the same exact moments again and again (Rembrandt’s shoes for example). On and on. The work remains ‘open’ because the artist cannot stop revisiting that ‘site’.

    But let’s get back to that Raavan moment. Some of us have talked about it before. The idea that this is about a simple instance of sexual chemistry is I believe quite misplaced. And the gigantic clue here is the soundtrack. You do not get the ‘normal’ version of Ranjha. You get a very strange ‘alternative’ one. It’s like a banshee singing it in a rather scratchy, screechy version. And the moment itself is not about sexual tension between a man and woman but one between a woman and a near-alien. This is not about ‘forbidden love’! ‘Raavan’ is just too much of a ‘monster’ (understood as completely other..) for her at this point. But even for Beera himself this moment involves some discovery. Which is why that sound cue is so perfect. There is sexual tension here but of a near-brutal sort. Or rather there is an undecidable line here between ‘rape’ and ordinary ‘chemistry’. Eventually Beera withdraws. The moment is left suspended. Rathnam and Rahman said at the time that the regular version of Ranjha wasn’t right for this moment and they were right. They sacrificed one of the key tracks on the album, even one that was such an important part of the advertising because they didn’t think it was right. Later that song is part of the background score when Abhishek’s past is revealed. When his sister is getting married in the usual way this song returns. Note the displacement.. the song that was intended for the lead couple is displaced and finally returns to the couple (Raavan-Sita) in ‘shards’ (though we don’t know this until later). In any case there has to be the sense of discovery in this moment. an attraction similarly that is not yet ‘simply’ sexual. To take it back a bit when Ragini jumps in the river it’s a rather traumatic moment for Beera and he takes a while to come to terms with it. This ‘sexual moment’ then forms part of that dynamic. Eventually a certain comfort level develops between the two but not yet. The relationship that the two share nevertheless remains enigmatic right through the end. This is not a usual love triangle!

    Throughout Raavan there is this principal of ‘blocking’ at work. Something obvious is always elided or blocked. For example one waits for significant love scenes but these never come about. f that were the point of the film it would be a very different one. There is a ‘strangeness’ here that the director wishes to retain throughout. With just a few changes keeping more or less this narrative intact one could easily a fashion a hit out of this material. Really, it wouldn’t require too much. and if I can understand this Rathnam assuredly can! And yet he does not choose to go down this route. Why? Because he is after a different sort of effect. One can criticize him for this, one can find this attempt to be a failure AS LONG AS one takes the film on its own terms.

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    • I disagree with your analysis Satyam (unfortunately).

      “There is sexual tension here but of a near-brutal sort. Or rather there is an undecidable line here between ‘rape’ and ordinary ‘chemistry’. Eventually Beera withdraws.”

      Eventually Beera doesn’t withdraw. When Ragini comes out from the magic of that tension, beera has disappeared. Immediately after this scene Beera proposes to her (would you live with me….what if you were not married….etc…without any response from her)….so unfortunately your theory doesn’t hold true (for me) at all. I think you over analysed this scene with your comment on undecidable line bet. rape and chemistry. By this time audience ALREADY knows that Beera is NOT capable of rape and that he is a good guy.

      I will come back with more.

      Another scene, where Beera is in Ragini’s husband’s room with Ragini’s dress hanging and the walkie-talkie cracking…and Beera makes animal like noises and says “beera…beera”….well that scene also was complete failure (I will tell you why later) for me.

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      • there is a surreality to the scene (another point that should be stressed). On Beera not being capable surely Ragini doesn’t know this?! And I don’t think the audience knows anything either. What happens ‘after’ hardly changes this moment. And even if he proposes so what? By the way the regular sexual chemistry moment occurs between ‘Ram’ and Ragini in the film and even this has slight overtones of violence.

        On Beera being ‘animal-like’ this too was part of the deal. There is an element of ‘derangement’ to him. An excess.

        But again you’re using the very same ‘code’ I outlined earlier. Irrespective of the reading offered you take the opposite position and say ‘it didn’t work’! And eventually it becomes only about Abhishek!

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  60. Re: AS LONG AS one takes the film on its own terms.
    Very true. But the ‘aam junta’ wants to take on the film on its own terms!
    Kidding aside, there is a debate to be had here.
    Why a director makes a film, what is his vision and how important is it to find acceptance by the masses? How justified is a direcors’ stubborn desire to stick with his vision even if it is at the cost of critical and commercial success? Who is the film aimed at?

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    • those are all fair questions and much as I myself would always support someone who decided to kiss off on the box office I am also sometimes ambivalent about this. Because if one looks at it in terms of the overall project then this latter is compromised when one makes ‘different’ that doesn’t work. Again with respect to Abhishek his doing well at the ‘different’ would have enabled many others to do the same. Now others will be far more cautious because they will see the costs of doing risky stuff a bit too often. So there is a debate to be had on the individual film but then there is another one for the overall project. If those who make the usual stuff see the different not working at all their case only gets strengthened. And this creates ripples within the entire trade. A distributor, contra whatever the partisans think, does not really say ‘Abhishek is the problem’. He just figures certain genres don’t work and Abhishek is a ‘problem’ only inasmuch as he keeps doing this stuff. Ultimately the distributor just wants to make some money. If you do it the Akshay way fine! If you do it the Aamir way that’s fine too! Everything else becomes irrelevant within that perspective. And so when prestige films fail fewer people then attempt. Having said that this is where Bollywood’s perversity actually enables Abhishek and all those directors who nonetheless want to make such films. That there is such a value placed on doing different and prestige that directors will attempt these films in any case! And the distributor cannot completely shy away from these projects because a very large percentage of directors aspire to this sort of thing. The interesting thing about Bollywood today (here Kashyap is right to a degree) is that simple run of the mill fare in any genre is not very common. At the most one can make an exception for comedies. But that’s about it.

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  61. Re: you cal it ART.

    Elementary mistake. It is called commerce.

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  62. Alex adams Says:

    Dimps, satyam and ‘ranjha ranjha’ playing in the background .
    And if one adds utkal & now rajen to the mix, one gets the perfect Bollywood potboiler–interesting indeed!!Hahahaha

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  63. Alex adams Says:

    A surprisingly detailed “review ” by this Peter lovcee…
    Another point totally missed till now here is the apparent “heart attack” and subsequent hospitalisation of mani during the making of raavan.
    I suspect that inspite of his best efforts ,
    Mani could not stop the impact of this on the film which does lose grip somewhere after the interval ….
    I am confident that a totally “fit” mani would have taken this subject (filled with possibilities ) to a higher plane…..

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    • not sure Alex.. the one point that people often miss is that most of Rathnam’s major films since the early 90s have actually not worked at the box office. For the simple reason that he’s either gone in a very different direction or else he’s tweaked regular genres in certain ways. This then disappoints audience expectations. However he’s usually smart about his budgeting and his films are not big flops in any sense. Sometimes the initials make them relatively safe, sometimes it’s other stuff. In Tamil though he has ‘failed’ (in this pure box office sense) with Rajnikant, Madhavan (he was a heartthrob after Alaipayuthey but Kannathil didn’t work barring one theater in Chennai), Surya-Madhavan (the Tamil version of Yuva, again more or less did like Yuva), Iruvar (though Mohanlal isn’t a Tamil star in the same way the project was nonetheless greatly hyped for the historical connection). When he’s really wanted or needed to he’s made hits. From Alaipayuthey to Guru. Again Dil Se released a few months before KKHH, had the biggest item song of its day and a huge soundtrack in general and still didn’t work (SRK). Rathnam is just not interested in regular stuff anymore. He’ll do it when he has to but then he’ll get back to what he really wants to make. And this usually is more than the audiences are able to handle. Raavanan was still ok (Tamil) because he and Vikram got a very good initial, after this it was just about ok for a week or two in certain key theaters. But again nothing big here. Even in an industry much more used to this sort of thing it wasn’t an outright hit or anything.

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  64. Alex adams Says:

    “For you Satyam…you will LOVE this one….”
    Hahaha Dimps is getting more and more “graphic”–
    There is no escape for satyam now lol

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  65. A long and circular discourse on the nature of film culture in India, the “aam junta’s” filmy habits and yes, that film called Raavan enliven this blog. But I do think Satyam should first try to address the basics before going on to expand on the flaws of filmy culture in India.

    What is it that one takes from cinema? Broken down into its most elemental form, when we remember a film, good or bad, what is it that really excites us about a film? Is it the ‘magical’ moments that remain with us, filling in the blanks for the more mundane ones in a film? Is it the film’s aesthetic appeal? Great writing, usually noticed in the form of key dramatic conflicts, seeti-maar dialogues or just a nicely traced emotional arc?

    Films, quite possibly, mean a hundred other things to people. A rigid fixation on entertainment, for instance. But it would be interesting to read what Satyam and the aam junta have to say about this. While we are at it, Freud’s dream patient, aka Alex Adams, at least in terms of sexual obsession, is also requested to have a ‘go’. Kidding about the last bit.

    P.S. Alex dude, did you “invent” the character of Savita Bhabhi?

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    • As far as I’m concerned, I do rely heavily on ‘individual’ moments in a film. I don’t really care if a film makes complete sense or not, the sum is lesser than the parts or vice versa. When I remember Sholay, I remember the great train chase sequence, the scene of Jay’s demise, the final tracking shot of a lone Thakur standing on the train station, as the credits roll on…just a random sampling of how my mind works.

      I love Delhi-6, and as a display of my film-within-a-film appreciation mindset, I love the whole picturization of Dil Gira Dafatan even more!

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      • Saket, I am not sure if the definition of cinema is really needed for the purposes of this debate. First off my ‘sense’ of cinema ought to be clear from many of the comments but also I don’t really wish to impose a definition of cinema here even if I qualify it as ‘just’ mine. If both of us read Tolstoy I might like him for his plots, you might like him for his usage of language, someone else might prefer other aspects of his writing and the worlds he creates.. what is important here that all of us agree that Tolstoy offers something of value. This is in fact my only claim on Raavan and for that matter with respect to many cinematic works. You used D6 as an example, I too love this film. You also suggested that the ‘parts’ of a film might work for you as well, if not better, than the ‘whole’. I think this too is an approach we cannot do without when we approach ‘serious’ works. And so with D6 one might find the film a failure or muddled or whatever but one should still be able to appreciate the visual grammar on display, a video like dil gira, the ambience of the film, on and on. We cannot do without this approach because important works (here defined as those which have some claim as ‘artistic’ ones) are often les than fully realized. We don’t reject Tolstoy completely when he writes an inferior story because usually there is something of value in even an artist’s failures. One could easily assert the same for every artistic field. And so with Raavan (where I just described as I saw it one of the strengths of the Ranjha sequence.. though in truth I have written extensively on Raavan earlier) one should be able to find something important in the film even if one doesn’t like it at all. This is a very modest claim.

        But to get back to your initial question I don’t approach cinema or any other field of art for a dominant set of reasons. With Rathnam it might be one set of factors, with Hrishikesh Mukherjee quite another. There is no common set that applies to everyone. Now I might have preferences in terms of genres or visual codes or politics etc but this is a different thing. And again here the point is that we ought to be able to judge as great even that which is not to our taste. I am completely opposed to the entire project of Yahsraj/Johar cinema as I am to SRK when he becomes the brand ambassador for this but this doesn’t stop me from accepting that SRK is nonetheless one of the very culturally significant stars and this cinema is also crucial in terms of shaping both a certain new India mindset as well as a latter-day diaspora one. As an aside I should say that I even enjoy something like DDLJ a lot though most other films in this sequence have become unwatchable for me.

        And this is again the point that I keept restating again and again. There should be a distinction between personal pleasure (or displeasure) and something like a critical opinion. If someone prefers watching David Gower over Richards that is absolutely fine. But one cannot assert the former to be a greater batsman than the latter. There has to be this distinction. We of course react impressionistically and in very personal ways to works of art or entertainment and this ‘experience’ should never be devalued. But just this cannot form the basis of any meaningful discussion precisely because it is so ‘personal’. So if someone finds Shahrukh enormously capable as an actor it’s a bit hard to argue with this unless and until the same person provides reasons and examples and a sense of what he (or she) means by acting. That’s what we can engage with. We can’t argue against the purely subjective. And again this is what I have said again and again for years on different blogs. This is all that the Raavan debate is about. Hate it if you wish but don’t say there’s ‘nothing’ to the film. Or stuff like ‘it’s only great visuals’ and nothing else. Because the moment you say that certain consequences emerge. It is a visual medium after all!

        The problem though is the following: I might not like D6 but actually I don’t want you to like it either. If things are kept purely subjective I’m happy because then I can also rely on the box office and suggest that while your opinion is as personal as mine there are a lot more like me than you! Because the film didn’t work. Hence this becomes a roundabout way of trying to say my opinion is in fact more valid (majority rules!). But in any case people often just pretend to be completely democratic about this and only about preserving individual opinion. When they come across something very different however they often react badly. It becomes even worse when some of us insist on actually ‘explaining’ ourselves at great length each time. Yes it’s a revolutionary notion for many! It certainly annoys them. In fact the more one explains one’s positions the more others tend to say that one is an extremist ‘obsessed’ with something. It is as if we were to call a Shakespeare scholar crazy for writing too many books on Shakespeare! The problem is then with the message but hey shoot the messenger! And the problematic message here is ‘Raavan must not be defended’. But it is different in different contexts.

        A lot of times (as you well know) people pretend to have a debate or a conversation on blogs but there is often bad faith involved. So if you hate Abhishek and in the deepest sense possible, even to the degree that the hatred becomes pathological, that’s your will and wish and I would certainly not object but then don’t pretend that there’s a problem in every scene of D6 or Raavan or whatever merely because Abhishek is in it. Or that the film flops the moment he shows up. And so on. It is true that one cannot admit these things without a serious case made against the film or star because one is afraid of being laughed at or whatever. That’s right, this is the risk but that’s also the truth. I cannot say I hate Johnny Depp as an actor or star and I find absolutely nothing of value in him but that everyone should take me completely seriously when I say this! Either one must be willing to ‘learn’ and moderate one’s position accordingly or else be willing to get exposed to ridicule. Unfortunately there is always that third way where one will not or cannot learn but one will also pretend it’s something other than the obvious personal response. And some things do go beyond the pale.

        I have never liked Salman Khan. or to be more precise I didn’t particularly mind him early on but really started disliking him when he started doing the Dhawan stuff and so on and this continued pretty much till Dabanng. However I didn’t really care whether his films were hits or flops. because I had no ideological objection to him otherwise. In fact even though I far preferred watching SRK I was also arguing against SRK far more than Salman. In any case I wasn’t arguing that Salman’s flops (he’s had some very lean runs) were because of him or what have you. If I had that sort of stance I would just be an extremist. Because my personal reaction would be disprortionate and certainly revealed in ‘excessive’ ways.

        To get back to your question one final time (and now you’re sorry you asked!) it’s not really that I could explain my subjective reaction to a film and that would settle things. We express those opinions all the time. Everytime someone does that I don’t insist on an essay to validate one’s position. But if someone’s going to tell me there is nothing of value in Raavan and assert it again and again in extremely dogmatic terms well I want to know why!

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      • Saket Dude..I am with you…the “aam” mind works like that too….I get impressed with some passages in the entire poem or chapter in a novel and if not the entire movie, several scenes are scene stealers (for me). I LOVED Ravaan for its visuals but then I don’t need to see it as movie. I could mute it and play it just for visuals or see national geographic slides (just kidding). There are still good moments in the movie. I loved the whole scene/interactions bet. beera (ab jr) and his sister….good acting by sister certainly. I am liking what Govinda did with his role (LOVE-LOVE-LOVE it) in hindi version and he played it SO SO SO much better than the tamil counterpart. Actors do bring in that something. Sometimes directors can “extract” it out from actors. But mostly the onus is on the actor to push the part beyond. E.G. daniel day lewis (I think is his name…his dad was famous british national poet)….when he takes up a role, he prepares for it for a year (at least)….when Amzad played gabbar singh, he could have not put in that “extra” and STILL be good in his role. The way he stole the entire movie from entire cast was by adding all those extra efforts like he wore SAME clothes…slept in it…stunk in it….to get to the soul of the dacait. And WHAT A SHEER DELIGHT HE WAS and STILL IS!!!!
        Would junior ever reach such heights….? Does he have it in him? Does he even care?
        After 10 years, I am losing my patience. Maybe I am wrong in setting the BAR THAT HIGH for him. THAT is so wrong of me….but kya karey….Jaya B and AB sr ki aulaad hai…..

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    • Saket. Lets just take the super hit movie of Dabaang. It doesn’t pretend to be “art” movie. It is out and out commerical venture and when you go to see it, we already know, kya hai usmay. Within THAT framework, the plot, the pace of the movie, the dialogue, the good songs…everything has to work. The director cannot cast Salman and forgetaboutit. He still has to work on the plot and it still has to make “sense” to the “aam” junta.
      Now take Ravaan. It is not your chalu commerical-city-maar movie. We already know this as “aam” junta. So when I go to see it, I expect Mani Ratnam chops. IN trying to be arty, one cannot forget the basics. End of story. IF you want audience to understand Ravaan POV, you have to give the audience enuf reasons (other than his sister was raped) and flesh his character out properly and it has to progress in certain way…not that he is going “bak-bak-bak” at times…then speaking chaste hindi and becomes “normal” and then again “bak-bak-bak”. Really. By the time I feel sad/sorry/empathy for Beera, the end credits rolled. So that feeling for the character didn’t or couldn’t come out in time (and that is directors failure for me) because role of a movie/novel/drama/poem/prose is to move you (the audience), to make you think, to understand Ravaan and also see how cunning the SP/Ram character was. In the end, Sita/Ash was never in “love” with Ravan. THAT was never the point of the movie. I can see that. However Ravan/Beera DID fall and fall very hard for Ragini.
      However complicated the art is, it cannot be SOOOOOOOOO complicated that only Satyam can understand and not me (the “regular” junta). In THIS lies the failure of the movie.
      Upon second viewing.
      Not that I “HATE” the movie. I can also see why west will congradulate/throw accolades at this movie. And I am VERY happy for Ratnam Sir.

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      • Dimps, I do not understand van gogh’s paintings and there are only select few (who actually understand the art of painting) understand his work, so does that make him or his paintings failures? I personally think that is not a relevant argument from your end that majority of the audience did not understand raavan so it is a failure as a whole, Hell, I have seen pyaasa many times, but I guess I am missing the point every time, (there are many that just claim that they do understand it, trust me there are many fakers out there) the movie did bomb but yet it is considered a cult classic. Most of the junta did not understand it then nor most of it understand it now, does that make Guru Dutt or pyaasa a failure?

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        • THAT is not how I would put it Kash Dear.

          Lets say Shakespeare. EVERYone likes/liked him universally. When his plays performed in Globe, intellectualls and laborer, BOTH came. Same for bigb movies. Similarly we can say for a movie like Black Swan. And lets say I don’t understand surrealism at all, but when I see the “liquid” watch of Dali, I totally “get” it; what he is trying to say as an artist. When I hear a raga (with my classically untrained ear) I love it for the beauty and the raga expert loves it as well and understands it for its technical complexity. Bottom line is cinema makers (like Mani sir and ALL of them) want their art to be reached/read/appreciated by LARGER AUDIENCE. Black Swan can be enjoyed by a person like me, by someone who is pschology expert as well.
          WHAT is the point of ART, if only Satyams of this world understand???? and it doesn’t have wider audience??? No point. Mani Sir, said so himself in an interview. IN that sense EVERYONE wants their movie to become “hit” movie….accepted by masses/common-man/regular junta….whatever your choice of word is here. The importance is in getting my point and not peeling and trying to read something else in my lines (like real meaning of “aam” junta) etc etc.

          PEACE

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          • Okay, So let me put in simple words. You watched Black Swann, You liked it, because you understood what the director was trying to say (trust me, Black Swann is not that simple film to take in). I did NOT understand black swan, so did many others that went to see the film with me. ITs a complete failur, its a horrid movie, such horrible performances by the principal cast of the film ( I dont care what the oscars say or who got th award, regardless of it being praised at many film festivals, and by many intellectuals) I as the “AAM Junta” hated black swann, such a bad movie. is that okay with you?

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          • But not every single Shakespeare play worked commercially! Most did because he was a kind of Manmohan Desai at the pure entertainment level, it’s one of the reasons he’s so much of a miracle even among artists. You can watch him for pure entertainment but you can also subject him to the most extraordinary analyses. But still not every single play worked the same way.

            The thing is you’re randomly selecting works of art that have appealed to you. That doesn’t mean that every single one would. We are because of our experiences and our exposure to different things more able to appreciate certain works of art than others. You would find a number of Antonioni films very hard to sit through. That doesn’t mean he’s only making them for people who are ‘critics’. Just that the ‘conditions’ of art are different in different cases. The idea that a work ‘must’ appeal to everyone at a minimal impressionistic level is quite misplaced.

            But there is another point here. When you listen to a raaga and find it ‘pleasant’ you might be getting nothing more out of it than you would from say a Preetam melody! In other words ‘being pleasant’ does not get to accomplishment of how well the raaga was performed. Schoenberg brought about a revolution in Western music, his ‘atonal’ difference. One could listen to him and find him ‘pleasant’ but one would completely miss why he was revolutionary. To get back to Shakespeare one can enjoy him the way one enjoys Manmohan Desai. But then why is Shakespeare needed for this at all? It is as I said Shakespeare’s miracle that he can devise great entertainments while writing the profoundest poetry and so on but the ‘entertainment’ isn’t the end. What is stunning about Hamlet is precisely how the play is structured, how extraordinary the poetry is, even in a philosophical sense, how Shakespeare bends language to his ends, on and on. Not simply that it’s entertaining! Because that minimal level of entertainment could be provided by many works hardly comparable to Shakespeare otherwise. If I simply want to have a good time that B grade Feroz Khan film might do as well as Deewar! It is only when one goes in for that greater experience that these things become important. If it is just about entertainment one can stick with Fanaa and never think about Dhobi Ghat! In other words why go to the more important/serious/artistic work merely for entertainment?!

            There are great artists who spent their lives in destitution because no one in their age could ‘connect’ to their painting. So should they have stopped doing their work for this reason?! Does Rathnam only make films that can satisfy Dimps?!

            And your standard is completely arbitrary. You keep equating yourself with the ‘common man or woman’ (your much used and even more abused term). Did you take a poll and find out if everyone thinks as you do?! Do you like all the films that are box office hits? If not you’re clearly not with ‘aam junta’ all the time right? So Iruvar was ok for you but using your own yardstick you weren’t with the ‘aam junta’ on this? Don’t you see how completely contradictory your positions are?!

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          • “Same for bigb movies.”

            Who came for Saudagar? For Alaap? For Main Azaad Hoon? For Silsila? I can keep quoting examples. If Abhishek had done these films you’d say he made them flop! what’s the point here? What if Bachchan decided to keep doing more films of the sort that usually fail? Abhishek has done precisely this!

            By the way I’m beginning to think Black Swan is the only ‘different’ film you’ve ever liked. This is the only example you’re able to offer!

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  66. alex adams Says:

    oooh welcum back Saket—Nice to have u back…
    If i remember correctly, the last time u were “packed off” and sent off to an undisclosed rave party to “sort yourselves and your incoherence out”–lol
    U also promised some interesting details & then disappeared—-so how about some update of how u went along///
    BUt it seems that u are back and asking around/ enquiring about dodgy websites like savitabhabi lol
    Cmon Saket—we expected better from u mate….”grow up”–pun intended….
    As for Sigmund Freud, will tackle that later….lol
    Have to crack on with some job…
    PS—agree about Dil Gira dafatan
    The only song in d6 whose picturisation justified the excellent music….

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  67. lavanya Says:

    Ravanan was not an outright hit because it offered nothing new to the tamil audience. However it was not disliked and didnt create any hysteria. It lacked tamil flavour, tamil sound,ambience & culture especially since it is a tribal/village subject. For the international audience it is alright because they dont know the local flavours. The tamil audience in their heart of hearts expect such things in Tamil films especially in this new wave reality era. If it is an outright commercial masala nothing is expected except entertainment, fantasy & fun. With good directors coming out with meaningful cinema the bar is raised.

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    • yes agreed it didn’t create any hysteria. Of course even with the Hindi the figures though those of a flop are nonetheless vastly better than the media hysteria would have one believe. On the ‘Tamilness’ aspect of things this has been a subject of debate with Rathnam for a while where people feel his films aren’t rooted enough. I tend to disagree. Rathnam has never been Bharthiraja. But leaving this aside there is a degree to which Rathnam has always recoded being Tamil in ‘other’ spaces. Not all the time but quite often. Nayagan takes place in Bombay, even earlier Mouna Raagam is set in Delhi. Later there are Roja and Bombay. Of course even when he does set films in TN people have sometimes had this complaint. Because just as Rathnam prefers exploring Tamilian identity at ‘other’ sites (and the key film here is of course KM where there is a ‘dialog’ between two ‘native’ Tamil identities and yet there is ‘displacement’ inscribed at either end.. the Indian Tamilians who travel to SL and the SL Tamilians who are not ‘at home’ in their country) he also eschews obvious markers of identity when he is ‘in’ Tamil Nadu. People though misread him as presenting a ‘deracinated’ Tamilian type. Or at least I don’t agree with that reading.

      It is therefore amusing to hear some people suggest that Rathnam becomes less rooted when he does Hindi when he is never considered stable on these grounds in the first place! But even in Hindi Dil Se takes place in ‘edge of the world’ places and then a rather frightening Delhi, Yuva is set in Calcutta, Raavan is again ‘outside civilization’. In a sense Iruvar is also ‘key’ to this entire discourse because when it comes to representing the most iconic of Tamil entertainment figures, at least before Rajnikant, you have a Malayalam superstar doing the honors! Now the ‘naive’ argument here is that MGR had Keralite and SL roots and had a slight accent or that he couldn’t get other actors and so on. The point is that many directors would simply not go ahead with such a project on these terms. Because it isn’t just that a Keralite actor played the part but a well-known star who then obviously could bring into it his own system of signification. And then consider how this film must have played in Kerala. The rivalry between the two peoples, these linguistic cousins, is well-known. Here you have such an iconic star playing the most iconic star in the enemy’s camp!

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      • I have seen little or heard very little from Rathnam except when he came out to defend his film a bit or disagree over ‘editing’.
        I would love to hear what his vision was and how he thinks he fared. I do believe he is a little bit shaken up by the non-success of Raavan ( atleast in BO terms) and had read his next project may not star Abhishek.
        I would love to see his defense of his artistic/script/editing choices in Raavan. I think it would help me better to view the film on what Satyam would call – his terms.

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        • His next project is supposed to be a Tamil period piece. The interesting thing though is that none of the stars associated with it has actually confirmed that he’s directing it. So I have a bit of doubt about this still. But if true this would be his first Tamil ‘only’ deal since he first started working with Abhishek on Yuva. I would be surprised in any case if he made a Hindi film without Abhishek.

          On the rest of it he has said in interviews that he wanted to push things to the limit in Raavan in some ways. It was clear that he wanted a very ‘compressed’ narrative and so as he kept editing the film he kept making the film ‘tighter’ in his words. Of course he wasn’t referring to a gripping script here but more the idea of one where he could remove ‘narrative fat’ as much as possible and have the film exist in that zone of ambiguity. It is hard to tell without looking at the edited footage whether a better film was possible. In any case I do agree that we don’t have nearly enough people defending their aesthetic choices in India and it would be good to hear from them from time to time. Having said that Rathnam is just about the least likely candidate for this. I think he tends to be a bit of a stoic about these things. He’s known many big disappointments in his career.

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          • Searching for his post release interviews on the net, I came across this review from Rediff:
            http://movies.rediff.com/report/2010/jun/18/aseem-chhabra-reviews-raavan.htm

            I believe, I missed it at the time of release.

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          • Do remember seeing this even if vaguely. But there were some along these lines. Mentioned Frank Lovece the other day. There were similarly others. A minority but nonetheless serious pieces and these sometimes went to the extent of calling it not just a good but brilliant film and Abhishek’s best work and so on. Some of this was lost in all the hysteria. The NY Times designated it as a critic’s pick. The Hollywood reporter gave it a good review. I too don’t remember all of them but there was a fair number.

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          • and junk films don’t get this kind of attention:

            Raavan And Ravanan To Be Screened At Various Film Festivals
            Posted by Faridoon Shahryar at 11:36 PM

            Mani Ratnam’s Raavan & Raavanan a big hit in film festivals & has invitation from 9 festivals for screening

            Mani Ratnam has just returned from Venice after receiving the “jaeger-le coultre – glory to the filmmaker award” where his Raavan & Raavanan won him much appreciation and a standing ovation from the 600 strong special delegates audience. He is also the sole Indian to ever be awarded this prestigious award.

            But looking at the impressive lineup of invites from international and prestigious festivakls for the films its clear that Raavan and Raavanan is a critical hit worldwide.

            After Venice is the PUSAN International Film Festival in South Korea (Oct 7th to 15th 2010) where both the films will be screened.

            The others festivals where the Mani Ratnam film in both or either version will be showcased are the following :

            SITGES Film Festival, Spain (Oct 7th to 17th 2010) – Spanish Premier – Raavan (Hindi)

            Mostra De Valencia, Spain (Oct 15th to 23rd 2010) – Action Section (Competition Section) – Raavan (Hindi)

            MONTREAL-INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF NEW CINEMA, Canada (Oct 13th to 24th 2010) – Canadian Premier – Raavanan (Tamil)

            Tokyo International Film Festival, Japan (Oct 23rd to 31st 2010) – Winds of Asia-Middle East Section – Raavan (Hindi)

            Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council Film Festiva, New York (Nov 12th 2010) – New York Premier – Raavanan (Tamil)

            Asia Pacific Screen Awards, Australia (Dec 2nd 2010) – Competition Section – Raavan (Hindi)

            International Film Festival, Goa – Indian Panaroma Section – Raavanan (Tamil)

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          • I guess these fall outside Dimps’ ‘universe’ as she is emphatic that it is a ‘universal’ opinion that Raavan was rubbish. or may be it is the ‘universe of aam junta’ that she was referring to.
            Is aam junta a euphemism for uninitiated, unwilling and incapable? I wonder!

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          • lavanya Says:

            His next project Ponnien Selvan is his dream project. M.G.R & Kamal Hassan wanted to make a film on the novel at various times but it never took off. Infact now maniratnam has also now dropped the project. Atleast there are strong rumours of that kind.

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          • always found something strange about Rathnam doing it.. didn’t know about these rumors though..

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  68. Alex adams Says:

    Thanx Iamthat– that’s hilarious ….lol
    I’m a bit busy rite now but a few points—
    He deserves a Nobel prize for this achievement — usually it is an achievement to have one…
    How does he rememeber their names — do they have name tags…
    “I get a revelation from God telling me any woman I’m going to marry. If it wasn’t from God, I wouldn’t have gone beyond two,” he explains”– Hahahaha
    Now all offenders can “blame gods revelation” — lol
    Having said that, the way women are being treated here ( worse than cattle)is apalling and is more than a human rights issue ….
    Nothing can justify this….

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  69. I felt terrible at all these “attacks” and labels thrown my way. I felt bad that I suggested Devgan/bajpai/nana etc etc for the role of Ravaan and stepped over the line of logic.
    Then I was watching Ravaan 2nd time.
    The SP character, each time he came on screen, I had “reactions”….WOW…mindblowing….but wait….I was supposed to hate him….but why is it that I am so damn impressed by this dude…who is he. Googling more found out he is big down in Tamil cinema.
    OK.
    Then the premiere interview he mentions something about playing “both” roles. One is hindi, one in tamil. hmmmm
    Whats that about.
    Then found out that this dude is Beera in Tamil version!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The movie was hit in Tamil (WHAT A SHOCKER).
    Got the tamil Ravanan.
    Watching it.
    ELECTRIC performance of Tamil Beera. DUDE.
    I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO glad…….MY FAITH IN MANI SIR IS RESTORED!
    My views on AB jr…..well not for this blog….least I am “attacked” for having some kind of agenda/conspiracy/innate hatred yada yada.

    Directors miscast.
    People choose wrong profession… in which they are so-so or mediocre or don’t like what they do…who knows the reason.

    As far as Hindi cinema is concerned, TALENT IS LEAST IMPORTANT. Really. Salman/SRK/Akshay…..etc etc would NOT survived. If you are mediocre or even inferior actor, you CAN be downright success.

    There are few and far in bet. Anil K, Devgan, AB sr….good performers who also were successfully commercially.

    AB Jr will soon find his medium the way Saif Ali Khan did. Heck If Saif can be successful so can be AB JR! End of story.

    Now back to Ravanan.

    And I had SEVERAL EPIPHANY MOMENTS during Ravaan. But since my comments are inane/dull/innocent….I will keep it to myself 🙂

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    • vatikala Says:

      I dont think you feel terrible about the attacks. Seems you enjoy those attacks. Poor they. They are trying their best to defend their viewpoint from your onslaught. Hehe. Your style of writing or expressing is somewhat similar to Shobhaa de. Are you serious that abhi looks better than his dad?

      It s Vikram. These tamil and malayalm guys have that wild charisma about them which our clean shaven heroes generally dont have. They are chocolate heroes, you know. They melt.

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      • Oh VatiK…..gosh I am Soooooooooo in love with Vikram (‘s character) right now….and I HATE mooch (moochwala man) you know!!!!! Boy O Boy, Ravanan…..kya baat hai. The scene with Vikram having hands around ash’s character….magnificent! Of course I was trying to see from Satyam POV…was it shot differently (?)…did Mani Sir do something else here (?)….gosh…I hate too much analysis….takes away the brillance of moment you know (for me).
        Anyhow. I really don’t like attacks on personal front and making fun of me (and my lack of intellect stuff) and I have always been very willing to change my stance, as long as I logically can, I would.

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      • Yep…bigb is not “handsome” in conventional sense at all. He broke the norms of the time (actually stuff on which articles have been written)…his face, his middle hair parting…unusually huge nose which is out of proportion really…..etc….etc. He proved his abilities as an actor in art films (Hrishkesh M) and commercial cinema (MDesai) and gained adulation of audience…and eventual acceptance of his face/looks…so much so that middle parting of hair became high fashion!!

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      • South mai Bhagwan Shiv ko bhi mooch hoti hai….
        🙂

        Aur yeh review mainey abhi-abhi pada hai.

        http://movies.rediff.com/review/2010/jun/18/review-raavanan-is-better-than-raavan.htm

        “Veera/Beera needed to be menacing, edgy and playful at the same time, and yet come across as credible when he loses his heart in the blink of an eye. To me, Raavanan soars because of Vikram. Abhishek’s Beera, on the other hand, makes the right expressions and sounds, but doesn’t go beyond them. I am not saying Bachchan Jr is not good, just that Vikram in the same role is better.

        Vikram, too, gets only a conditional vote. I am not a cineaste, so I am not aware of other actors having played the main role in one version and the counterpart in another, the way he has played Raavanan in Tamil and Dev in Hindi.

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      • Vati….you know how I am reacting to Ravanan is how MANI WANTED HIS AUDIENCE TO REACT for him/his anti-hero. In hindi version, THAT didn’t happen.
        And therein lies the “failure” of the movie (my “analysis”). There is more…but for now…this will suffice. I will invariably compare it to Black Swan and annoy everyone to death….LOL.

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  70. lavanya Says:

    In my opinion maniratnam was always rooted in his earlier films. Of course he had his own style & signature. In whichever place his films were set the characters held their tamil identity. In mouna ragam the family was a typical urban middle class tamil family. When revathy goes to delhi still she dresses, talks & behaves like one. Similarly in Roja & Bombay and his all other films. But in Ravanan veera was more neutral. And i am not being chavinistic. I just mean that if a character ( not actor ) is a tamil he should hold his tamil identity. if she belongs to ladark then hold that identity

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  71. alex adams Says:

    “Oh VatiK…..gosh I am Soooooooooo in love with Vikram”—hahaha
    Perhaps Satyam/ Utkal wont like the “Sooooooooo”…….

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    • I like Vikram more than any other Tamil star. In fact he has been one of my favorite Indian stars for the longest time. One of the most exciting things about Raavan was precisely the prospect of seeing him with Abhishek in the same film.

      Like

  72. @Satyam/Kash: What I am trying to say (again I am not able convey it and/or you are twisting my words)…is that…the MOTIVATION of the director/artist is ALWAYS to make his work reach, understood, appreciated by EVERYONE.

    “You would find a number of Antonioni films very hard to sit through…”

    Antonioni WANTS people to understand and appreciate his work by EVERYONE. If it didn’t make to everyman, doesn’t mean he failed. Doesn’t mean he is lesser of an artist or Silsila is lesser movie….etc….etc. That the motivation of the ARTIST is ALWAYS the same…he wants his work to be understood appreciated by everyone.

    Common Richshawwala will like Pritam’s rauchy lyrics (lets say his lyrics/songs are raunchy) but the success of Pritam’s classical raga based song is when Rickshaw-wala liked it as well…so it “reached” to him and not just someone who is classically trained singer.

    Black Swan: I refer to it because I am old woman…my memory is failing and it is a recent movie I saw. The protagonist moves from “white”ness/purity towards the “black”ness in the movie…..slowly…steadily. There are layers…there are other subtextual happenings. In Ravan, that type of progress needs to be there thro’ out. In the beginning, Ram/SP character, for the audience, is good man and a wronged man (his wife is kidnapped). His character portrayal has to slowly steadily move towards the shades of grey. Similarly, the character of Beera is black…he has stolen/kidnapped and done a wrong act separating a loving wife from her husband. This guy has to slowly and steadily move towards whiteness…wherein it should evoke sympathy/empathy/understanding/compassion from audience to understand his angst/pain/bak-bak-bak. All this needs more layering…there has to be more room….other than just that rape. SP has to mean, little bit early on….it did happen but in very last scene (for me).

    Therefore the analogy bet. two “dis-similar” movie.

    It was my poor/vain/pathetic attempt at analysis as to why Ravan fails….if it truely was not able to reach everyone. Because Mani Ratnam too in the interview said he wants everyone to watch and appreciate the movie.

    I have painted a beautiful painting myself and it is hanging in my living room….noone has appreciated it other than my guest….I have a desire to show it to world…that it goes in art galleries and everyone else see it….what use it is just sitting in my living room. As an artist I want larger audience. It doesn’t mean my painting is BAD….I am NOT saying that at all!!!

    Like

    • No, No matter what you say about Black Swan, I dont see that blackness creeping in, its not explained propersly to me, It horrible, very very bad, I think I am right and the actress has no layer to her acting either, I think you should believe that too that the movie IS INDEED very very very bad, just horrible acting. (Yes, I am being a bit sarcastic here, My apologies, not insulting your intelligence, Just speaking in your terms where you can comprehend what I am trying to say, thats all)

      Like

      • “…It horrible, very very bad, I think I am right and the actress has no layer to her acting either…”

        Good for you. Welcome to the world of “aam” janta!

        Like

        • NO IT IS VERY VERY VERY BAD, I am telling there is really nothing in her acting, ugggh..I wish they had taken Gweneth Paltrow or someone, She was horrid..Uggh.

          Like

  73. Now lets say my painting makes it to the art gallery. However no one can understand/appreciate it. As a artist that is big disappointment (to me) if ONLY a handful of people understood why the timepiece was liquid and no one appreciated it. I may not even get a chance to show my future works…what a tragedy!

    The painting is still beautiful….but people did not “get” it.

    However, my point is that thing of beauty is joy for everyone.

    Universally, Ashwarya rai is beautiful woman. Everyone will agree. Not many people will disagree to THAT.

    Similary a good artistically sensitive movie made by Hirani, will reach out to Rickshawwalla too. No one can deny THAT to Hirani.

    When this happens, it is like milan of atma and paramatma….LOL. Both are happy.

    Mani could have worked a bit more on his script. He could have added more layers to it.

    There is ALWAYS something that can be done to improve….make it better. This is what an artist desires…wants…this is almost a demand of the audience too.

    Like

    • what you’re completely missing is that not being appreciated by one’s immediate audience is the fate of many artists in many fields. A work can often be ahead of its time! It’s not necessarily a failing if no one gets it just then. People then do ‘get’ these works over time. No one appreciated Guru Dutt’s greatest films when he was alive. Today these are considered among Indian cinema’s greatest masterworks. The ‘time’ of a work of art is never limited to the chronology of the artist’s life!

      Like

      • on that agree with you dahling.

        Like

      • Filmbuff Says:

        This is point is very true. I once read an interview with Vidhu Vinod Chopra who said that “Parinda” is considered to be a very good movie these days but it was not a commercial success when he released it.

        Satyam, off topic – i saw “Mashaal” and “Parinda” recently. Have there been any discussions on these two movies on your blog?

        Mashaal was produced and directed by Yash Chopra with story, screen play, dialogues and lyrics written by Javed Akthar. I used to wonder why the older generation in India considered Dilip Kumar as the “Actor” . After watching his performances in Shakti (with AB snr) and Mashaal i can now understand! The only other Dilip movie I had seen earlier was Mughley Azaam but that movie was more about Madhubala, Prithiviraj kapoor and the fab songs.

        Parinda would have been a huge success in this decade. Was it a late 80s or early 90s movie?

        Like

        • Haven’t been any discussions on these films. Parinda I believe is 1989.

          Like

          • Filmbuff Says:

            I would definitely recommend that you see both these films – they are really good. I don’t want to discuss anything here coz i don’t want to have “spoilers”. Please let me know when u get a chance to see these and if there are any discussions on your blog

            Like

    • lavanya Says:

      Inspite of all that could have been done the movie is still beautiful as it is. It had its moments. Nobody can deny that. It is still better than many stuff that is getting released now.

      Like

      • yep…yep Lavanya….especially the Tamil version (for me) is really-really good! LOVE that anti-hero beera dude….now I am supposed to be “biased” towards someone who I didn’t even know existed as an actor…some mucchad guy (normally hate moochis on men)….still I am “biased” towards him for some reason. Anyhow….he does deliver….the movie is visual stunner…BOTH versions are visually stunning.

        I loved Sai’s rediff review that I had posted earlier (and Sai is not a movie reviewer…just happens to be a mumbai journalist … tamilian roots…who watched both movies and I agree with what he saying….totally!

        Like

  74. One thing Vikram often wonders about is how did he suddenly become the best thing since sliced bread in the eyes of some since starring in Raavan.
    There are people who havent seen a film of his before and doubt will ever see one again who profess to be blown away by his performances in Raavan/Ravanan and suddenly have become ‘huge fans’!

    Like

    • “how did he suddenly become the best thing”

      IS THAT A CRIME????? AN accusation?
      HA!

      Like

    • A lot of other Southern stars are now trying to act with Abhishek in films. Guarantees them an instant fan base!

      Like

      • “A lot of other Southern stars are now trying to act with Abhishek in films. Guarantees them an instant fan base!”

        ABSOLUTELY agree with you. Who in this sane world would let go of SUCH GOLDEN opportunity!!! You tell me. Act/get break in hindi cinema against a known-hammer-ruin-all-roles-no-matter-how-insignificant actor…..I felt Ash looks like good actor more so because she is AGAINST AB jr……EVERYone else will shine in front of THAT fella….so no wonder….totally agree with you on this comment too dude!!!

        😉

        Like

      • Meri baat kaa zyada bura maat ladana. I am in entralled-with-vikram mode right now. WHY ON EARTH you didn’t tell me BEFORE Satyam…so mean of you…you kept Vikram hiding from ME!!!!!! Evil fellow!

        Like

  75. Re: He could have added more layers to it.

    LOL! Most were incapable of peeling the ones that are already there. Adding more would have befuddled the’ aam janta’ even more!

    Like

  76. alex adams Says:

    “Abey…roti kacchi hai…kaisey hazam hogi?!?!?!?! Tu bole toh pakki hai….aisa hee naa….!!!!!!!”—lol@DImps–She has stumped Rajen &satyam in ONE ball lol—

    Like

  77. I was reading this with much interest and then I found this-

    “While Dutt is superbly charismatic throughout the film he is not enough of an actor to really bring out the nuances of this dynamic and partly as a result of this the film does not really achieve the emotional resonance it might have”-

    So you compared an absolutely iconic Dutt performance unfavourably to an Abhishek performance which was trashed left, right and centre. I mean it was hardly a Yuva or Guru like deal

    Like

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