BAHUBALI: VISUALLY RICH BUT FORMULAIC

Bahubali (or Baahubali) is a visually rich panorama frame by frame. The movie is packaged with immaculate detailing in its every shot.

In South Indian film industry (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada) – Tamil Film Industry (Chennai) is the best known one for producing epics with larger canvas. Telugu does have produced some big budget movies but not beyond the ambit of run-of-the-mill productions. Malayalam Cinema has produced some of the finest films of Indian Cinema but no one invests there in big-budget movie productions.

Bahubali was simultaneously produced in Telugu and Tamil but is basically a Telugu production and broke the trend of Tamil Cinema in South India producing big budget quality work.

The movie is a quality product in terms of its technical aspects devoted to express finer details of every shot as meticulously as possible, shaping every possible elements of a frame that could be, and capturing it to creative satisfaction.

But the movie is still formulaic with loose plot elements. Going by the first part of this two part production, the film can be fit in the Masala genre based on revenge plots. Focus of direction seems more on producing a war as a visual extravaganza than making the overall plot an intriguing affair.

Here, actors are good but not as big as Rajinikanth is or not as subtle as Kamal Haasan is. Here the movie is grand but not as refreshing as ‘3 Idiots’ was.

But, nonetheless, the movie is a great leap in Indian film industry where most of the products, including the most big budget ones, are not even a time pass affair.

Because, in spite of Bahubali’s déjà-vu plot, where we can easily expect what will be the next development, its treatment has made it a visual cinematic feast exceeding expectations.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

baahubali-poster-5

Featured Image Courtesy: One of Bahubali’s Official Posters

MOHALLA ASSI: HOPE FILM DELIVERS WHERE ITS ‘LEAKED’ TRAILER FAILS

Well, it claims to a satirical take on ‘bad side’ of Kashi (or Varanasi or Banaras). Reports say it is loosely based on Kashi Nath Singh’s ‘Kashi Ka Assi’ though the novelist, as some versions say, is not happy with the treatment.

I watched this trailer last night and again this morning after I came to know about this movie. Looks an interesting movie by the trailer though it is certainly about stereotyping something peripheral as the main. What Chandraprakash Dwivedi, the Central Board of Film Certification member, wants to show through this film, he only knows.

The culture of Assi, the social milieu of ghats and the overall culture of Banaras is much deeper and mystical. Hope the movie captures this essence which is certainly not in the trailer. What is bad in Banaras, its Pandas and other bad people (Kashi ke ‘thug’ or cons or fakers), is known from ages. I still find more books on Kashi written by foreigners than by Indians. Yes, the drug menace shown in the trailer is a reality but again it cannot be attributed to everyone. And also, the world knows how dirty has become Varanasi in recent days and needs an infrastructural makeover.

I am from Varanasi, born and brought-up there. I have never used any expletive so far in my life. Also, I don’t know anyone in my circle using expletives as habitually as is shown in the trailer. I still go back to this city to learn from it, to experiment with my thoughts.

Not everyone uses abuses or invectives or cuss words or “gaalis’ there, in day to day life, in routine, while talking. It is not there for everyone, as the trailer makes us to believe so. Mostly, it is between friends. High tempers and rage also see such words flowing. But then, it is not unique to Varanasi. Don’t we find such things in Delhi and in other parts, obviously with localized elements? Such societal elements and habits are always on its periphery and we should not see them as mainstream social elements – as this trailer tells us.

Reports say this one is a leaked trailer of the movie, that is a work in progress since 2011 and has seen many issue derailing its completion. Finally, it may release later this year.

As the movie is being claimed as a work of satire and as the trailer is said to be the ‘leaked’ version, let’s see if the movie has that punch to deliver the honest message here.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

AFTER WATCHING ‘THE INTERVIEW’, KIM JONG-UN SENDS ‘GUARDIANS OF PEACE’ TO HIS MISSILE DEATH SQUAD

After watching ‘The Interview’, Kim Jong-un has decided to send ‘Guardians of Peace’ to his missile death squad for adding to the movie’s publicity.

Los Angeles Times – ‘The Interview’: Farce doesn’t live up to fuss, reviews say
Bloomberg Businessweek – The Interview Review: Much Less Compelling Than the Events It Inspired
The Independent – The Interview film review: Controversial gross-out satire is broad, bawdy and bad – but undeniably entertaining
The Sydney Morning Herald – The Interview review: Contentious topic bogged down in clumsy humour
The Washington Post – Review: ‘The Interview’ has some laughs and makes some points but isn’t as edgy as its reputation suggests
A. O. Scott, The New York Times – My colleague Mike Hale, who saw the movie at an advance screening and wrote about it after Sony’s initial decision to pull it from theaters, mused that “the only real mystery is how something this ordinary could have caused so much agitation.”

Enough is enough, shouted Kim Jong-un, while self-styling his hair in his cosy room of Ryongyong Residence and reading through the reviews of the Sony Pictures movie, ‘The Interview’, the movie allegedly made to caricaturize the personality and the assassination of the 3rd Kim of the ‘Kim’ nation, North Korea.

Was this the movie that forced the ‘1st Hermit’ to tell the world that his lot existed (and mightily existed) in the cyberworld as well – Kim Jong-un asked so in a fit of rage?

While ordering ‘Sony Hack’, a damaging cyberassault on ‘Sony Pictures’ by his ‘Guardians of Peace’ for coming with ‘The Interview, so as to force the company to take it off from different platforms and to teach America, Barack Obama, Sony and the world about ‘exclusivity’ of Kim Jong-un’s interview, the 3rd Kim had decided he would also not watch the movie.

But after such reviews, that apart from lambasting the clumsiness of the film, also lacerated it for not living up to the expectations in the light of the ‘Sony Hack’ episode, he could not resist the urge to watch it, in order to set the further course of action.

The central theme of reviews was – ‘The Interview’ didn’t deserve this much attention at all and the controversy in the aftermath of ‘Sony Hack’ would only help the movie commercially as the release could not be pushed further after Barack Obama, the US President, made it a ‘prestige issue’ and went public about its release putting pressure on ‘Sony Pictures’.

Also, the 2004 release, to be re-released in place of ‘The Interview’, ‘Team America: World Police’, that tried to do the same with 3rd Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il, was much better than ‘The Interview’ on ‘cohabiting parameters’, but the 2nd Kim didn’t react on it, or didn’t go hyper about it.

Kim Jong-un is feeling flummoxed by all this, feeling being letdown by his own lot, by his own ‘hermits’. What he thought would tell the world about his ‘cyber might’ has made him a laughing stock once again. And his money helped in it, in giving ‘The Interview’ free publicity worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

According to the reports from credible sources from inside the country, watching it only through halfway took his anger out of gear and he, then and there, on-the-spot, ordered the team of Unit 121 (the North Korean hackers, as the world knows them) behind ‘Sony Hack’ to be sent to his newly constituted ‘missile death squad’ that was successfully launched with the execution of Kim’s uncle Jang Song-thaek in December 2013.

But that is not it. Before that, every member of the team has to watch ‘The Interview’ 100 times unstopped.

Now, that can only be the style of someone like Kim Jong-un, the baby-face, tenderly chubby, Dennis Rodman loving ‘hermit’, who also orders entire families to be killed, entire communities to be starved to death.

Idiosyncrasies – after all, they are at their ‘raging’ best – they have their greatest manifestation in ‘greats’ like Kim Jong-un.

And a team of North Korean hackers is facing his wrath now – for something that was done in America. Their fault is that they could not hack the Sony systems to the extent to steal ‘The Interview’ and watch it before they reported it to their Supreme Leader/Dear Leader.

And now, it is going to cost them dear.

The ‘Guardians of Peace’ now need a guardian to save their lives but who can save them in North Korea, or even in the Chinese hotel, from where they operate, when the 1st Kim created the world and the 2nd Kim controlled weathers thr 3rd Kim has ‘elements’ of both. Such is the might of the ‘topmost hermits’ of the ‘hermit kingdom’.

Kim Collage 2Image courtesy: Collage prepared from images sourced from Newsweek, NBC News, The Blaze, CTRIP

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

FIRST THOUGHTS ON THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES

First thoughts on The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies or The Hobbit 3 or simply Hobbit3..

The final chapter is delivered better than the previous two (An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug) but all three installments fail to capture the J R R Tolkien masterpiece (The Hobbit) the way Peter Jackson could do with The Lords of The Rings books.

The Battle had interesting moments but didn’t look epic on screen.

The development of characters further in this part and the development of events leading to the grand finale give a feeling that something is missing, is incomplete.

It didn’t give the feeling of watching a complete movie in itself, a milestone of the three TLOTR movies. Yes, the three installments of TLOTR are incomplete without each other and a jump from one to other bypassing the next renders the story meaningless for someone who wants to see the story to its end but each narrative is weaved in a way that we don’t feel that we are watching an incomplete work while watching the movies separately. We don’t get the feeling of ‘something’ missing here, something that Peter Jackson couldn’t do with The Hobbit. 

Yes, still a much better production than routine Hollywood studio Sci-Fi, superhero and fantasy flicks with finesse in use of colours, frame elements, camera and technical tools, a sort of weariness can be traced from TLOTR movies to The Hobbit movies.

A book into three movies Vs three books into three movies – a possible reason for the fallout!

Will Peter Jackson take up more Tolkien stories?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

ATTENBOROUGH’S GANDHI – EPITOME OF MEANINGFUL CINEMA

Sir Richard Attenborough – The Right Honourable – or the Attenborough who gave us, the Indians, and the world the timeless biopic, the movie GANHDI, his dream project, a historical achievement, a creation for the global humankind to serve as one of the primary introductions to the 20th Century great who is to remain the icon of the humanity in the centuries to come – Rest in Peace Sir (August 29, 1923 to August 24, 2014)

I am reproducing here, with some changes, my article on ‘Attenborough’s Gandhi’ written on the birth anniversary of the Mahatma (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) on October 3, 2012.

ATTENBOROUGH’S GANDHI – EPITOME OF MEANINGFUL CINEMA

Yesterday’s (October 2) the Times of India had a small write up on Sir Richard Attenborough reminiscing about the making of the world cinema milestone ‘Gandhi’ on the birth anniversary of the Mahatma. He focused mainly on his selection as the director of the project as well as the casting of the movie. He said Naseeruddin Shah was the most recommended name for the role of the Mahatma but his search took him to Sir Ben Kingsley.

And Kingsley proved him right.

I am not a film-buff but I love cinema when it comes to the shades of the visual language. My collection is made of good stuff from the world cinema and I enjoy the quality time watching and thinking over the masterpieces. And I can say ‘Gandhi’ is the movie I have watched the maximum number of times. It is one of the prized possessions in my library. The movie is a ‘must have’ for anyone who cares for values and teachings of the Mahatma and prides in having his works as collectibles.

The movie is unique. In spite of the ensemble cast and thousands of extras (with Guinness Book record making 3,00,000 extras in the funeral scene of the Mahatama), the movie delivers extraordinarily well. Very few movies with such a scale of production in the world cinema have done so.

Much has been written on the Mahatma and much is being written. There have been many movies made and being made on him. His teachings and views have been translated into many languages. He reaches to the world fraternity of the day through the words, written and spoken. And for the world audience, the ‘movie’ Gandhi features prominently there, as the gateway to introduce the Mahatma to them who are still not aware of him but want to know about him. It is true of many Indians as well.

The film is an example of the craftsmanship by a master storyteller. Every shot is an inseparable part as if the movie could not have been made about it. Its every frame is a study in point. You can study the use of lighting, of camera angles, of the dress designing, of the sets and locales, of the props used to support characters in every frame, and a brilliant use of the background music. It is a management case study on Epic filmmaking. But two aspects stand out, the aspects that had the most direct bearing on making the movie a masterpiece.

Gandhi The Movie CollageImage courtesy: BBC, Wikipedia, IMDB, Frank Connor

One is the use of specific incidents from almost four decades of Mahatma’s life in India after his return from South Africa. Four decades is a long period and given the fact that India’s freedom struggle had become synonymous with the Mahatma, it was really a task like finding the needles in the haystack of multiple defining moments of the then Indian history. And Sir Attenborough has done it with such a craftsmanship that we never feel jumbled up when a frame transitions to the other. Remember, every frame in this movie had to be a meticulous selection of consistency and relevance of different time-frames spread, sometimes, over the years.

The other important aspect is the way the characters relay the visual language. Everyone is perfect in the role given but Kingsley mesmerises. Not even for a moment we realize the actor playing the role of the Mahatma is a British and not an Indian. Use of silence, sounds and body language enhance a skilfully written script well.

Gandhi standing up, sitting down and standing up again before he addresses the first public gathering in India or the way Nehru’s friends at Champaran convey their acceptance to do what Mahatma asks them to do – simply amazing.

I would say use of silence and the sound of props of the frames are the amplifiers of performances here. Gandhi travels by the train and the film travels on the wheels of the sound generated by the train and the surroundings. Gandhi’s silence speaks through his tears when his life-partner and soulmate Kasturba Gandhi departs.

Symbolism and leitmotifs, we can find many of them in the movie. It’s a multiple time must watch for anyone who believes in the Mahatma and who believes in the transcendentalism of the meaningful cinema.

I watch and enjoy the movie scene by scene every time, sometimes going back to a scene more than once. Here is the YouTube link to the one of my favuorite scenes from the movie where the British Justice, in reverence of the Mahatma’s stature, bows down to him as he enters the courtroom.

Thanks for giving us ‘GANDHI’ Sir. You’ll always remain there as long as the Mahatma remains there to stir the human conscience.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/