Thursday, November 29, 2007

Coalition (a)dharma

The facts are too compelling to ignore the analogy between the UPA government pulling out of the much-touted Indo-US nuclear deal and the JD (S)-BJP coalition ending in a whirlwind period of 20 months. This entire analogy is drawn with a broad brush dipped in filial relations.

Let us concentrate on the national front. To save its government, the UPA has kept the deal at abeyance, which suggests it is as good as over. The usually complaisant AICC supporters are at their nonchalant best because the deal always defied their intelligence. And this is Manmohan Singh's baby. Why care about him when Mama's boy is already gearing up for his inclusion in the big league? There should not be any doubts about why Sonia Gandhi is not supporting the deal. Even if divine providence strikes and Congress emerges as the single largest party Manmohan Singh will not be the Prime Ministerial candidate. As it is, many things are going against him. He is not a rabble-rouser, he does not hobnob with the grass root leaders. Consequently, he does not command much appreciation from the hoi polloi and his recent ten commandments at the recent CII meeting did not endear him to the corporates either.

All said and done, even if the Congress had gone ahead with the deal, jeopardizing its rule it would not have made political sense. The nuclear deal can never be a poll plank and Manmohan Singh will not be the face of the Congress. Further, all indications suggest yet another coalition government. Why start the entire vicious circle only to end up with the Left as partner again? When the deal was scrapped Manmohan Singh said that the Left was not opposed to the deal, it wants a debate in the Parliament. As far as this writer's memory serves him there was no debate on the Left's opposition of opening up of the insurance sector, the privatization of airports and PSU disinvestments, increasing the FDI stake, pension reforms. These have been carefully sidelined.

Traverse into the Deccan Plateau and the son of a son of the soil is lamenting pulling out of the JD (S)-BJP coalition in Karnataka. H.D.Kumaraswamy was a decent leader who led the government deftly in these 20 months, what with his Janata Darshan initiative, staying with the destitutes in their shacks, providing land holdings to the poor. But an already agreed pact with BJP came to a grinding halt because of the intervention of Deve Gowda who felt his party's secular tag is taking a beating. No one had the gumption to ask him why he suddenly felt this when he had the entire 20 months to ponder upon. This move of Deve Gowda will prove costly to Kumaraswamy because his party has lost its credibility.

This analogy has a common loser. The BJP. Advani was asking his cadres to get ready for snap polls and Yediyurappa was already passing orders as the de facto Chief Minister. Alas, filial relations are terribly strong.

Shoot the piano player: After watching this film I understood how important Truffaut must have been Godard's "Breathless".

Spring, summer, fall, winter.. and spring: Kim ki-duk rules the roost when it comes to make ample use of salubrious surroundings.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Reviews of Saawariya and Om Shanti Om

A teenage girl beside me was shouting at the top of her voice for the first ten minutes of Saawariya. And then she went into an interminable lull. That pretty much sums up Saawariya. After the initial euphoria over the newcomers subsides and the movie unfolds at its own languorous pace you very well understand that this is Bhansali’s grand turkey. Dostoevsky is a difficult writer to interpret on screen and that is the reason why we don’t see many of his works.

Apart from Kurosawa’s Idiot and Visconti’s White Nights I don’t recall any other movie, which was entirely faithful to the writer’s imagination on paper. Even Columbia Pictures, the producers of Saawariya, made a poor adaptation of Dostoevsky’s monster hit “Crime and Punishment”. Saawariya is also that- a poor adaptation. The short story “White Nights” is a personal story but Bhansali being Bhansali bases the film amidst an idyllic city, which thanks to the opulent sets of Omung Kumar and eye-catching photography of Ravi.K.Chandran stands as the sole redeeming point of the movie.

The narrator of the film is Rani Mukherjee, who is very much visible unlike the story. Her campy nature lends the movie the much-wanted believability. Because the entire movie poses more questions than answering about the soppy wait of Sakeena (played by Sonam Kapoor, who will soon enter the thesaurus as synonym for cardboard). Ranbir Kapoor as Raj, insinuating towards his grandfather, is affable and his boyish charm was worth all the whistles in the theatre. He carries himself well and this must be the best debut on Indian screen after Vivek Oberoi. Music of Monty Sharma will be talked for long time.

How I wish Salman Khan had a more well etched role and pray why dint Rani act so effortlessly in Laaga Chunari Main Daag? There are some cutesy moments in the film when the Raj and Sakeena walk together with an umbrella holding them together. Or that scene where Raj equates problems with a boxing match. Alas! These scenes could not lift a movie, which is inherently hollow.

Do not get deluded expecting sparks to fly between the youngsters, it’s at most a fifth-grade chemistry. If you don’t want to spend 200 bucks on this film just take a DVD of Ahista Ahista. Both have striking resemblance story-wise. The denouement is very much sad as it happens in most of the Bhansali movies but still it does not make you empathise with Raj’s misfortune.

P.S: Why did Bhansali have to pay homage to Raj Kapoor with that huge RK symbol? Even though he did he could not pull off a Bobby.

There is a school of thought in Indian filmmaking, which says that leave your brains before entering the theatre and we will entertain you thoroughly. This school’s dean is Manmohan Desai and its star alumni includes names like David Dhawan and Priyadarshan, who with their slapstick humour created their own putative reputation. However, these gentlemen have to make way and allow Farah Khan to share the dais with them.

Her Main Hoon Na was a tribute to the era gone by and the first half of her latest offering Om Shanti Om (OSO) is a homage to those “golden” days of 70’s. This is a better movie than that now an almost cult hit of Shah Rukh, Chak De India. This movie is not pretentious like Chak De and it is very much proud to be so. The way Farah recreated the entire late 70’s era is worth applause. Those digs at Keshto Mukherjee, Manoj Kumar, filmi Maa, the entire Murugan episode, imaginative choreography in 70’s “ishtyle” are such a treat to watch.

The very fact that the photography in those days is called Manmohan Desai angle as said by Arjun Rampal is all in the right spirit. The first half reminded me of the effusive milieu in “Boogie Nights” where Mark Wahlberg calls his pecker as “bright, shining star” and here Shreyas Talpade calls Shah Rukh as “superstar”. The second half falters at many levels and a sloppy adaptation of Subhash Ghai’s Karz did leave me a bit disappointed. However, Dard-e-Disco and Deewangi are sheer crowd pullers and maintain the tempo of the film.

The piece de resistance is the one-minute appearance of Akshay Kumar. Vijaykanth, Rajnikanth and Sharat Kumar should promptly make a bow. In a nutshell, the hubris of Bhansali has to bow before the sensibilities of Farah Khan.


Bin-Jip: Kim Ki Duk is one of those rare “new wave” directors who always experiments and never disappoints. Minimal dialogues in this particular movie only elevated the mood of the film.

That obscure object of desire: Luis Bunuel always befuddles the viewer but his loyal fans will always understand the underlying emotions. Discrete charm of bourgeoisie is another such Bunuel film.