CLIMAX….AND HOW IT CLIMAXES….CLASSIC INDIAN MASALA CINEMA WAY

In a palatial mansion, well-fortified, with guards and otherwise, there is a wall, unplastered, wall made of single row of bricks, looking ugly and totally out of place, waiting to be razed down….like it happens.

Inside the wall, the villain, clad in a polo outfit, is vigorously trying to rape a woman….like it happens.

The woman is crying for help, in the oversized mansion, secluded by the poor wall, and guarded by plenty of goondas….like it happens.

Anger is simmering….like it happens.

When it reaches to the helping ears, it starts boiling. And the helping ears rush to help. A big bang!!!! Like it happens.

And the ugly, out of place bare bricks wall is suddenly down, receiving its freedom, away from this palace that is phony for its standards, making its very existence in the frame a sham.

And, the helping ears are in, with body, with soul, with emotion and with anger – all on simultaneous display.

(Specifics of characters are interchangeable here with the sole distinction that the premises always remain the same – they may be of any age – of any sex – of any social class – even of any species.)

Soon we see the protagonist(s) of the frame on rampage in the mansion, throwing goondas here and there. The scene takes some time before collars of the villain is grabbed so that the fighting spirit and skills can be shown in totally, with mandatory bulldozing to overdose levels….like it happens.

Though the goons are still trying to give him a fight, like they were trying from the very first moment, he is outmatching them, making whirlwind rounds of the hall and in fact the overall mansion premises, its rooms, even jumping up and running down stairs, with impeccable somersault moves and acrobatic skills….like it happens.

As the good vs evil fight progresses, more and more goondas are seen biting the dust. There reaches a point when the boiling point of anger is right there with its intensity sending goondas packing, broken and aching….like it happens.

And after an epic fight, the frame cut to the next one where we see the main protagonist (of all) chasing the rapist owner of the mansion. He is the saviour of the moment and soon he is there, to melt the core.

Now desperate and running, the rapist reaches to his gun somehow (or for that matter any other weapon as per the script) somehow and is now taking aim.

There is pin drop silence in the ambience….like it happens.

The watchers have left their munching-grazing midway….like it happens.

But, but, while taking aim, the daddy goonda had not seen the other protagonist who was just behind the rapist, like even the viewers had not seen him in the frame for a long time. We don’t see him charging but all of a sudden, the other protagonist comes between the villain’s aim and the main protagonist, as the routine is, that the other protagonist is sacrificed by the script.

The anger, the tension, now starts spilling over….like it happens.

The main protagonist of all, the saviour of filmmakers and viewers alike, is up on the habitual murders and serial rapist now, ready to snatch the gun and take over the scene in finality.

And lo and behold! Flash and smash!

Like the situation has been conceived, the gun is either snatched and thrown away by the saviour who then shows his martial arts once again or the weapon’s is acted upon in such a way that its aim does the course correction to find its ultimate target – the rapist (or the villain).

Most of the times, the weapon is retired so that viewers can see some ‘real action’, in flesh and blood, in a syrupy cocktail of emotions. And the very next moment, the daddy goonda is in iron grip of our hero. He punches him, kicks him, tosses him up and away, he applies every trick of regulated and free style fight. To the credit of the rapist goon, he is a sturdy fellow who can weather the just excesses committed by the hero till it meets the appetite of viewers….like it happens.

How the climax climaxes!

Bang again!

A glass wall here, a door there, and furniture’s all around in the room get smashed down and we find the daddy goonda on the floor. From that point, he paces out, saving his life from the ongoing wrath of the saviour but fails miserably. He wishes to be a Jamaican sprinter but the script curses him to be an Indian one….like it happens.

It’s the finality – the finality that releases tension. And viewers are back to their normalized ways – grazing, munching while watching the emotional reunion of the caller and the called – the saviour and the saved.

It’s time for some garnishing, some dessert, the cherry on the top of the cake!

Tears are in free flow mode. Many of the viewers in the theatre are clapping, sobbing, and some even crying. The chatter, that had gone silent suddenly, is alive again. The job is well done. Filmwallas have performed their duty. And viewers have paid it back by reacting dutifully.

🙂 🙂 The Way It Is….The Classic Indian Masala Cinema…. 🙂 🙂

©SantoshChaubey

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WHAT MADE TOM CRUISE PICK THE MUMMY 2017?

This is a question asked umpteen times ever since the movie hit theatres, a movie that is not just a reboot of a commercially successful series but also the launch vehicle of Universal’s Dark Universe, an ambitious sub-series by the global entertainment giant to tap into the ever-widening profitability net of comic book super-heroes (and super-villains), supernatural characters and obviously the all-eclipsing monsters.

Well, The Mummy of the previous generation was a bad movie series. It could work commercially because humour was an important part of this storytelling that the world is quite familiar with, palaces, kings, queens, princes, princesses, paramours, conspiracies, killings, tombs, mummies and pryramids.

And the natural inevitability – that how far can you go with a tellingly thin narrative – that any mummy is basically identified with Egypt’s Pyramids and some Egyptian royalty because of the controversial history surrounding them – so, a standalone chapter, or at best two can justify their arrival if they are given some good treatment. Even The Mummy’s previous incarnation had to look for other extensions beyond Egypt to keep the franchise lubricated beyond two but then it chose to suspend the movement beyond one more.

The latest Mummy has come to life after 2008, when the last movie of the series was released. The three previous Mummies were basically horror comedies to say best or if we say conservatively, they were action-comedy flicks which didn’t need star power but the treatment that could pull the viewer to the theatre. They were time-pass flicks running high on computer generated special effects. They didn’t need acting credentials for expressions or starry adrenaline for action sequences.

They simply needed a one point linear narrative that how to keep the viewer engaged for 100 minutes by producing a cocktail of commercial cinematic specs like comedy mixed with horror, special effects, good looking canvases and known mythological monsters. They were meant to entertain somehow. They were never meant to excel.

True, it can be argued that Tom Cruise is an entertainer and excellence in filmmaking is a reserved phenomenon. But he is certainly an actor who cannot, at this stage of his career, be associated with films that are meant to entertain somehow. He is a name. He is a star power. He is among the selected few names who are used to sell films.

So, the big question is, what made Tom Cruise pick The Mummy 2017, a poor reboot that fails to create the effect of its mediocre but commercially successful predecessors, especially when the film has failed to create box office magic? Reports say the film generated only $400 million against its overall budget of $250 million. And critical reception, well its flooded with all kinds of negative witticisms – plain, convoluted, satirical, humorous and even comical.

©SantoshChaubey

NOW ANTI-SUPER HEROES

Anti-heroes have ruled the roost in every cinema. They have been one of the most important tools of parallel, meaningful as well as mainstream commercial cinema and they have been ‘the’ most important theme element of the experimental cinema. They are best used to represent the discontent on social malaise.

The parallel and meaningful cinema like the ones made by Govind Nihalani or Shyam Benegal or many others in our country or like Steven Spielberg’s Oskar Schindler or Mario Puzo’s/Francis Ford Coppola’s Vito Corleone and Michael Corleone. The mainstream commercial cinema does in its trademark ‘masala’ ways like Khalnayak’s Sanjay Dutt or Ram Lakhan’s Anil Kapoor or Deewar’s Amitabh Bachchan or like the main protagonists movies like The Transporter series.

And now it is the turn of the anti-superheroes.

And the reason is – like the anti-heroes, the superheroes provide more options to develop the characters – there are more shades to show including plenty of greys and therefore more (and interesting plot elements).

Since almost of them are American imports (or exports), it is needless to explore or talk about any other cinema.

Suicide Squad is the latest offering in the series of the movies that started sometimes back. These movies have superheroes who are sort of supervillainous in their attitudes.

It all began, we can say with Hancock, as it is the movie that comes to your tongues initially. It introduced to us (on a mass scale) a superhero who had loads of grey shades in his character yet he was the hero because he ended up doing good things, punching and packing up the bad guys. Then there were many X Men movies who had characters with shades of grey who initially did bad things but then ended up doing the Good Samaritan jobs.

More recently, the trend seems to have picked up from Deadpool which did brilliant business. It is again an instalment in X Men series of films. It has a superhero owing his genesis to some scientific experiment gone horrible wrong but an experiment that gives him superhero abilities. He is foul mouthed and lives a life that cares for his personal sphere of life only. And the latest offering in the series is ‘Suicide Squad’.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

LON’E’DON HAS FALLEN!

I had the fine luck of watching ‘London Has Fallen’ last night – and after watching the movie (it doesn’t matter if it was in random shots), I could not stop myself from writing about it.

Okay, I decided I would not go too deep as it will reduce gravity of my words. I decided to keep it direct – but with a bit of haziness. After all, we all exist in greys – with only occasional interactions with extremities.

The obvious first step or the first brush on penning some words about the movie was going for that little birdie on Twitter. And here a shocking revelation was waiting for me. When I tried my tweet with the hashtag #LondonHasFallen, I found that I was the first person using that hashtag.

Now, it was the first natural hashtag that people should have gone with while writing about the movie. Why they haven’t sounds a bit strange. Anyway, I ‘created’ the #LondonHasFallen hashtag (and felt good on creating something) and went ahead with my tweet.

Now, it is the time for my reflections on the movie:

Well, first of all, the movie is of epic proportions – the kind of destruction, and that too of London, and that too not by supernatural heroes, but by terrorists, is unprecedented.

No other producer or director can think to show London fallen to this extent. No actor can expect that the creative freedom to show destruction can be taken to this extent.

No producer, director or actor can be so unbelievably bold in killing most of important world leaders in one go – an act that #LondonHasFallen does so efficiently.

And where the mastery lies – in the manner all world leaders have shown to be executed – quickly, swiftly (and unbelievably).

The conspiracy has been shown so adept and meticulous that you can see a French President is shown taking waterways to reach London (without the routine entourage and security) or an Italian power couple giggles and ogles from a building and so on.

The meticulousness goes to the next level as the film shows the main protagonist and the side protagonist (here the US President) on the run and terrorists find men and eyes in every part of London virtually hijacking the city – where all layers of defence – aerial or ground forces or from Thames are shown completely fallen – with no trace of their activity.

And when so much of filmmaking talent is oozing here, brimming over, in fact, is spilling over, who cares about CGI or special effects or acting. The epic level of disaster on display takes care of everything. The movie leaves no time to think about storyline, character development or points of logics/ill-logics/bad logics/silly logics/funny logics.

Certainly, the movie that has earned thrice of its budget will remain a ‘lone’ achiever for the years to come. After all, it is rare to see so much of talent – in acting, directing and cinema-making – coming together on a single platform.

Thanks folks for giving us this filmmaking gem – a class act – like a ‘lone wolf’ – a study in point – that will be read again and again.

The film should rightly be spelt as ‘Lon’e’don’ Has Fallen in its respect.

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

LOVE – SOUTH INDIAN FILMS STYLE!

Funny – at its most insane!
Boisterous – at its most verbose!
Pampered – at its most mollycoddled!
Rowdy – at its most gaudy!
Outrageous – at its most audacious!
Cosmetic – at its most superficial!
Melodrama – at its most dramatic!

The hero:

  • Drives auto-rickshaw, or,
  • Is a bicycle riding college student, or,
  • Is a street vendor of vada-pao, or,
  • A goonda living in a slum.

The heroine:

  • Is from heaven.
  • From a family of high and mighty politicians, or,
  • A larger than life businessman, or,
  • A mafia Don flying in chartered plane.

Rarely, the narrative is developed with role-reversals.

Either the hero approaches the heroine or the heroine has the ‘instantaneous’ love-at-first-sight, no time is wasted in coming to the point – its direct and precise – irrespective of the ‘class’ difference – without going into details – like smooth and efficient!

Love happens so readily – only after few sitcom scenes – and the glues is so strong – that you feel that these films are the true representatives of a ‘classless’ society.

Either love is so ripe or directors are so experienced in these movies that they don’t waste any moment in nuances of going ‘in between the lines’ – or they refuse to see the beauty there that others see!

True post-modernists! Iconoclasts in their own league – so much so – that they have started a league of their own, their ‘own Masala’ within the larger ‘Masala Films’ genre! Proponents and followers of Communism should take their worldview (social take) on society seriously!

(P.S. – While randomly picking up a Dhanush’s movie on TV!)

(P.S. – South Indian cinema produces some of the finest movies in India every year. This is just about the so-called mainstream gibberish that is so prevalent even in the Mumbai cinema or the Hindi film industry – though, even there loves doesn’t happen so readily – and is certainly not ‘class-less’!)

🙂 

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

THE REVENANT: FIRST THOUGHTS THAT COME TO YOUR MIND

Obviously I am writing it in my context – but I am sure many would concur..

‘The Revenant’ is very lonely and sucks its viewers in its spaces – in its oblivions – in its living quarters – in its horizons.

‘The Revenant’ is probably the next most perfect narrative development of a book after ‘The Lord of The Rings’ trilogy.

‘The Revenant’s landscapes are, its cinematography is – I would say gripping – keeping you hooked to the whole frame and not just to the central characters – and this excellence has a beautiful rhythm frame after frame. You not only listen to the characters here but you also try to sense what the spaces around them are trying to say.

‘The Revenant’ is one of those rare movies where the film locales are as important as the script, the acting and the direction.

‘The Revenant’, a straight revenge plot, is taken to higher realms of filmcraft with powerful performance by every character in the movie, especially by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy.

‘The Revenant’, inspired by true events (as it goes), is an incredible life story of a man – played immaculately well by DiCaprio. He simply looks natural.

‘The Revenant’ is pure auteur – those who have watched other movies of its director Alejandro González Iñárritu – can easily read his style-statement in every scene.

‘The Revenant’ is a director’s movie – its actors are director’s actors – and its narrative is a director’s narrative.

‘The Revenant’ is one of the rare Westerns that try to deal sensitively with the history of Native American tribes – even if the scope is very limited here.

‘The Revenant’ should bag multiples Oscars this year – including the ones for the ‘Best Director’, the ‘Best Actor’ and the ‘Best Picture’.

The Revenant

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

Featured Image Courtesy: Screenshot from The Revenant’s Official Website

WHEN YOU LOVE REVENGE FLICKS

And not when you watch them as time-pass entertainment or a conscious film watcher to see how a particular narrative has been developed:

It is because of the human psychology in a society like India where VIP culture is deeply rooted as a cultural practice (or malaise) – where we all, more or less, at some point of time or regularly – face (or feel) its brunt – and the main protagonist of the movie is shown taking on such (rogue) VIP elements.

It is because such films give wing to our fantasy that craves (and at times cribs) because of the fundamentally feeble nature of human beings who have been harassed by rogue (or corrupt) elements – something that we all face – and find ourselves forced to compromise. Yes, exceptions are there but then it is not yet time for any of them to become norm in our society.

And we can see they vary according to the subsets of societies in India – like South Indian flicks portray an ‘all supercharged, superhuman like hero’ who first faces life’s troubles due to bad elements (VIPs – politicians, police, criminals with VIP sort of stature) – and then take on them with a force that dwarfs even the best bravado shown in the films made in Mumbai – because VIP culture or personality cult worship in India is most deeply ingrained in the South Indian culture.

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

STAR WARS: THE FORCE IS STILL IS THERE..

I haven’t seen the movie. It is releasing in India tomorrow but I can’t say when I will go to watch it.

But that doesn’t mean I am going to keep myself aloof from one of the most important marketing events of the year that comes garnished with what has unarguably become an important cultural phenomenon – recreating and re-living the ‘Star Wars’ experience.

And a journey through the reports after the movie was released, and a journey through the events and reports that preceded the release, tell us how a brilliant marketing campaign was weaved around a movie franchisee that has made words like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Yoda, Darth Vader, Jedi, Sith, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Count Dooku, Obi-Wan, Death Star, R2-D2, Galactic Empire, Lightsaber, Stormtroopers and many others part of contemporary lingua franca – inspiring loads of spin-offs – in every age right from its first release in 1977.

Going by the majority of reports and assessments, it can be said the film has successfully ‘re-launched’ the franchisee with the same essence that made the first two trilogies of the ‘Star Wars’ series cult classics – narratives that make you feel positive about plausibility of their fantasy – here an alternative universe the ‘Star Wars’ way.

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ tells ‘the Force’ is still there – with grand success of marketing events before the release of the film and the iconic triumph that it achieved after its release.

Fantasy, any sort of, is inseparable part of our existence but erecting them on celluloid requires a master’s craft. Very few narratives have excelled in that and we can say the ‘Star Wars’ series is one in the league (another valid example here is the two ‘Ring’ trilogies – ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and the ‘The Hobbit’) and it is good to read that this 7th movie in the series, with a new production house and a new director, has extended the space opera logically from its 2005 release, ‘Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith’.

Disney, which acquired Lucasfilm for US$ 4 Billion in 2012 has played well in taking the ‘Star Wars Universe’ ahead. The company mounted a massive pre-release marketing campaign, and as per reports, ‘The Force Awakens’ had already grossed around US$ 250 Million before it hit theatres.

No other marketing campaign has generated this sort of intense buzz except Apple’s iPhone launch in the recent history.

Similar reports of fans waiting in long queues outside theatres (in case of the film) or shops (for iPhones) make for cultural extensions to these two brands. While Disney put in intense efforts starting with release of ‘Star Wars comic book’ in January, the buzz around the next iPhone starts building up by March-April and peaks in August-September before the September launch event of iPhone.

Critics and people, at large, have appreciated the film and have gone on to say that ‘The Force Awakens’ successfully talks to the nostalgia in them for ‘Star Wars’ films.

And the film’s record-breaking financial success so far and its projections for the days to come reaffirm it.

Star Wars

Featured Image Courtesy: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ poster from Star Wars website

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

GOLDEN GATE BLOWN OFF AGAIN!

Obviously it is not about the strait but the bridge that covers it – and obviously it is again going to be on the ‘celluloid screen’.

I may be wrong here in judging the prop in the scene but I would like to think I am right – that another movie scene has written the iconic ‘Golden Gate Bridge’ off – blowing it again – in fact annihilating it.

And it happens time and again – be it an apocalyptic script or a theme or a simple larger than life thrilling adventure.

The thought came to my mind while watching trailer of ‘X Men: Apocalypse‘.

I think it was the Golden Gate Bridge that was shown to go down in the trailer and here we need to keep this in mind that in another ‘X Men’ film, i.e., ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’, we had seen some similar treatment with the bridge, though, with a moderate spectacle.

I have seen it so many times – and so have others – the 1937 bridge coming down with a big, thunderous blast, huge clouds of dust and smoke and lots of chutzpah in movies with apocalyptic times or movies that show the Golden Gate Bridge facing critical destruction of climactic scenes as it was in Godzilla.

And after this trailer, continuing this random thought, I think I will write a larger piece on the subject (:)) with some proper research. 🙂

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

‘JAB PYAR KIYA TO DARNA KYA’ VS ‘DEEWANI MASTANI’

Routine, well that is the first and the only expression that comes to mind after watching the highly publicised next ‘Sheesh Mahal’ (Glass Palace) or ‘Aaina Mahal’ (Palace of Mirrors) song of the Indian film industry/Hindi cinema/cinema of Mumbai. The song in question is from the upcoming movie ‘Bajirao Mastani’.

This is not a movie that usually fits the bill for me. I don’t waste my time with the lot. Yes, I consider watching such movies a waste of time. In fact, most of the movies produced the Hindi cinema of Mumbai can safely be placed in this category.

After reading a bit that this one is going to be the next ‘Aaina Mahal’ song, I thought I would watch this song ‘Deewani Mastani’ from the movie ‘Bajirao Mastani’ and then again the iconic song ‘Jab Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya’ from the equally iconic movie ‘Mughal-e-Azam’.

And what I found myself doing?

I watched this song from the upcoming movie just once but I ended up watching ‘Jab Pyar..’ three-four times, like it happens whenever I watch this.

And what I found – there cannot be any comparison between the two songs – on any parameter of filmmaking – set design, colours, lighting reflections, props, lyrics, music, choreography, song and dance sequences, and acting – the song is intensely emotional in every aspect – a holistic kaleidoscope of human emotions on display.

Emotional intensity – that is what I found primarily missing in this ‘Bajirao Mastani’ song – apart from other negatives.

No doubt, this song, too, is a grand production, but the comparison should ideally end there.

Bajirao Mastani’s song is a dull, routine song that routinely happens in most films of Mumbai Hindi cinema. Colours look dull in spite of the grandeur of the set and ‘emotions on display’ sound and look a far-fetched concept. The song will very soon fade away from the memory once the film is off screen.

I can watch ‘Jab Pyar..’ again and again but I have no such feeling about Bajirao Mastani’s song – after watching the two one after the other.

Enjoy this ageless song:

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