Archive for the the good Category

Abzee on Bahubali

Posted in the good on August 11, 2015 by Satyam


Finally saw Bahubali… after almost everyone I know knew of everyone who’d seen it. One runs a risk of having been overhyped with an event film such as this. Not so with Bahubali, I am glad to note. It is a beast of a film that shatters and soars over any and all expectations and then some more.

Would have preferred seeing it in the original Telugu/Tamil version though. For despite the fact that the Hindi dub is done well, one can sense the loss of nuances, especially given that there are multiple caste and class representations which would come with its own dialects and variants… something that is lost in the Hindi translation which opts for a curiously non-vernacular Hindi.
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First they came…

Posted in the good on August 3, 2015 by abzee2kin


I haven’t written for quite some time, and I haven’t written much worth the while.

The trigger was random really. A random viewing of Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday; that masterly adaptation of S. Hussain Zaidi’s sprawling documentation of the 1993 Mumbai blasts and the events surrounding and leading up to it. As with Kashyap’s other early works, the film struggled its way to a theatrical release, securing a delayed one almost 5 years after it was made; by which time most had downloaded the film and its sting rendered neutered. The film was finally cleared to be released by the Supreme Court of India after the verdict in the ’93 blasts case was delivered by the TADA court in 2007. It has since been broadcast on satellite television quite a few times, with the same indifference that had characterized its eventual theatrical release.
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Qalandar Reviews BAAHUBALI (Telugu/Tamil; Hindi (dubbed); 2015)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2015 by Qalandar

EXCERPT: “What makes Baahubali striking is precisely this “world-making”, director S.S. Rajamouli’s ability to imagine the particulars of every scene to such a degree that this make-believe world becomes real for the audience, even plausible.  Plenty of other filmmakers can focus on the battle scenes and grand sets, but absent this eye for the little, it can all seem a bit lifeless … In Baahubali, this eye is seen everywhere: think of the bales of straw the castle’s defenders use to try and prevent Sivudu from riding out of Mahishmati’s capital on a chariot; or of the hollow (wooden?) tube the hero uses to hold the green snake he’s going to release on Avantika while she’s taking aim atop a tree … or the way in which Mahishmati’s rulers discuss the battle plan in the film’s second half.  At every step, Rajamouli and writer Vijayendra Prasad seem to have thought long and hard about how such a world might work if it existed — and because they have done so, that world comes alive for us.  Compared to Baahubali, even the best of Bollywood’s grand fables –think Lagaan — seem airbrushed, most historicals superficial in the face of its thoroughness — Jodha-Akbar comes to mind, or Asoka — and the less said about wannabe fantasies (like Krrish) the better.  In this it is inspired by the best of contemporary American TV (and, much like Game of Thrones, ends with a sensational cliffhanger). Walking out of the cinema after the film I had a stupid grin on my face, the sort that meant: This too is possible.”

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The Decline of the American Actor (The Atlantic, Jul-Aug 2015)

Posted in the good with tags , , on July 27, 2015 by Qalandar

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Excerpt: “Actors can’t do what they do in isolation, as writers and painters and composers can. The theatrical arts are collaborative, both in the microcosm of an individual production and in the macrocosm of the culture that does, or does not, sustain them. It’s fair to say that American culture isn’t providing a high level of sustenance right now, and actors—like so many others in the every-man-for-himself climate of 2015—have to figure out, on their own, ways to get what they need. The question is whether they can muster the imagination, and the stamina, to maintain their technique (and their spirits) while dealing with the sort of material available to them in this movie culture: cop dramas, superhero adventures, rom-coms and bro comedies, the occasional earnest, glacially paced indie. It’s not impossible, but it can be a heavy lift.”

Qalandar Reviews MASAAN (Hindi; 2015)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2015 by Qalandar


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By the end, Masaan (“Cremation Ground”) was very different from the film I thought I was watching after the first fifteen minutes: the opening sequence, involving a sexual encounter violated and sullied by policemen intent on cruelty and extortion, is one of the most riveting, and nauseating, representations of the police in years (only the sequence in Anurag Kashyap’s Ugly (2014), where the father of a missing girl tries to register a missing person-complaint, comes close). I was filled with loathing, and wanted to hurt someone. That feeling stayed with me – Bhagwan Tiwari as Inspector Mishra has an important and continuing role over the course of the film – but Masaan turned out to be about something other than misogyny or the workings of a corrupt and oppressive state machine. What that something is I’m not quite sure, but in its moodiness, its air of mystery, its poetry, I am confident Masaan heralds the arrival of an exciting, reflective new directorial talent in Neeraj Ghaywan. To the extent Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan (2010) may be said to have spawned successors, Masaan is among the worthies. Continue reading

Qalandar on BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN (Hindi; 2015)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2015 by Qalandar


Excerpt: “Everyone deserves a second chance, and in retrospect, Ek Tha Tiger was the appetizer to the main course that is Bajrangi Bhaijaan: and a damn good meal it is (and, it must be noted, one not without some Andhra spice, written as it is by K. Vijayendra Prasad, a man credited with more blockbusters – including the continuing phenomenon of Baahubali — than most have hits). By now everyone knows the plot — good-hearted Hanuman bhakt Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi finds a mute Pakistani girl lost in India, and resolves to cross the border to re-unite her with her family — but let’s pause to acknowledge that this itself is a welcome relief from the nauseating flood of routine love stories packaged as something different; or the clothes, fashion, and lifestyle ads that masquerade as films in Bollywood. And then there is the question of the social milieu the film is set in: I found myself rooting for the fact that this film isn’t populated by people toting D&G and acting as if progressive cinema consisted of ripping off off-beat American filmmakers, rather than plagiarizing other sources. In Bajrangi Bhaijaan, people take the bus, eat at dhabas, drink tea from roadside stalls, not because the director is trying to tell us something (in far too many contemporary Hindi films, these representations would mean either that we are talking about the hinterlands of UP and Bihar, with crazy violence sure to follow; or that it’s a question of a film about some “them”, made for some “us” that is assuredly not “them”), but because that’s simply where his characters live and how they commute to work. It’s delightful because it’s so normal. (That I have to make this point at all testifies to the sad pass the industry has come to.)” Continue reading

A Passage to Shimla (Caravan)

Posted in the good on July 17, 2015 by Satyam

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“Over the years, the town’s position in films has shifted from the peripheries of the narrative to closer to the backbone of the story. In 1982, when Kamal Haasan won his first National Film Award, this rising star of Tamil cinema featured in the hit film Simla Special, in which Shimla appears again through the eyes of a tourist. But though films such as Ajay Devgan’s 2000 Raju Chacha and the 2005 release Black meted out heavier doses of the hill station, compared to its stock appearances in the 2009 hit Three Idiots and the Shimla girl Preity Zinta’s 2000 debut Kya Kehna, most never delved into the history behind the visual gloss of its colonial relics.”