Thursday, September 14, 2006

Filmi funda

Its been a good year for bollywood,or as the Big B prefers to call it, the Hindi Film Industry. Diwali is around the corner and already there have been thunderous hits both critical and commercial. The best ones..

Rang De Basanti: Rahman, Prasoon Joshi and Rakeysh Mehra came up with a winner which had to have a good opening in order to ensure good collection in the successive weeks. Aamir's popular face on the posters ensured that. And word-of-mouth publicity and some truly great music kept the cash registers ringing. Its the kind of film I personally want bollywood to make frequently. Make a good entertaining film with a difference and sell it with stars. You dont always need a great actor, an above average one will do. Aamir is clearly an over-rated actor. He has been part of some good films,but cant call him a great actor. But he sells, and he is prepared to experiment. Prasoon Joshi revived me from my depressed views of the lyricists of today. Javed Akhtar and Gulzar are both ageing, at least there is now one decent one to look forward to.

Omkara: An absolute class act. Another case where a well made film had to be sold with stars on the posters. Vishal Bharadwaj made a critically acclaimed 'Maqbool' but didnt exactly strike gold at the BO. This time, he continued his romance with shakespeare(Othello) but no art-house-actors-only kind. The film ran well for the first week, collections dropped due to family audiences shying away.Gulzar amazed again with his lyrics. He is 72. and only getting better. Saif ali khan, Take a bow. I dont think he has ever uttered BC,MC in his life thanks to schooling in Eton. But he rolled them off his tongue with the same relish,if i may call it that,that we used to (and still do) in our college days.

Lage Raho Munnabhai: There are sequels, There is krrish and then there is munnabhai 2. One of the best sequels since Terminator 2. Better than the first in terms of the tight script. Gave a beautiful twist to 'vande mataram'. And can you believe it, Gandhi's autobiography is a hot cake now. Vinod Chopra has had the time of his life in the last 3 years. His films bombed one after the other since Parinda. And its rumoured he cant get enough of it, and announced Munnabhai 3 as well.

Only one major film to look forward to now, 'Don' and that too just because of Farhan Akhtar. 'Dhoom 2'? Nah, not for me.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Cinema : What next??

Lot of people(art patrons) consider the twentieth century to be the century of cinema, like the 19th centruy clearly belonged to literature. Most of the classic writers Dickens,Keats,Wordsworth,Bronte and many others marked that time.Cinema is clearly the most collaborative of all arts. It has a literary part to it(screenplay), music and visuals. All these go hand in hand. But unlike literature, which has been there for centuries, Cinema was born a little more than 100 years ago. As expected, it grew very fast around 1910-1930. The language of cinema was growing during that time. Cinema was depending largely on technology. With sound, colour it reached a certain stable level. From there, it was upto the film makers what they could imagine. Almost everything they could imagine was captured in film. I say almost, because special effects were yet to come. With limited technology, it was upto the director and the cameraman as to how to 'shock' the viewer. There lay the difference between the ordinary filmmaker who depended totally on the text and masters like Hitchcock and Kubrick.

Special effects started making their impact in cinema in the seventies. 'Alien', 'Star Wars' so on. Now nearly 30 years later, that too has reached a stable level. The language of cinema is not changing much. Clearly for close to a century, the trick lay in shocking the viewer. With Special effects(Jurassic Park), narrative styles like flashback, fragmented and non-linear narrative(Pulp Fiction,21 Grams) it gave the film-makers another dimension.

I am sure that there will be new breed of film-makers who will change the language of Cinema. 'shocking' the viewer has been the trick behind making them eat the popcorn fast. Making them think "What next??" Even though they know that the guy will get the girl, the good will punish the bad. I am too wondering similarly about cinema, What next??

Thursday, January 26, 2006

For the love of the Game

Like most indians, I grew up playing cricket on the streets and in school. Cricket is a game despite having completed over 120 years is still played at the highest level by just 10 teams. When I was in college, I asked myself why do i find cricket more fascinating than soccer? If you analyse it in a dispassionate manner, soccer is truly THE universal sport. Easy to explain (hit the ball there and don't let anybody hit it here), can be played by two kids no matter how economically weak they are, since almost anything can be used as a football. Cricket is an extremely complex game in comparison. I was still learning rules after playing the game for 5 years or so. The reason why I like it more was hidden behind an acceptance i was yet to make to myself. The fact, that genetically, we (the asians) are physically inferior to both the caucasians and the negros. The chinese,south asians (inculding us indias) are and will always be by-and-large inferior to them. There might be the odd P.T.Usha/Milkha Singh in the Olympic finals, Sania in the 3rd or 4th round of a grand slam,Korea in Soccer world cup semi-finals.But these guys will always be the also-ran or the exceptions and never the generality. The 100m race will always have mostly blacks. The heavyweight champion will always be a black, or the odd caucasian.
Deep inside me, this knowledge of mine was so strongly accepted..add to this the fact that cricket was no way like that. Among all field sports, cricket is probably the most genetically unbiased game. your physical fitness will be helpful. But you will still regularly see short tendulkars, sehwags, and not-so-muscular dravids and DeSilvas tower over the beefy Flintoffs and Shane Bond. In which other field sport sport can you see a Paunchy asian (read Ranatunga) hold the world cup over a mighty australian side. The world cup cricket has been won by blacks (windies), whites (australians), and asians (pak,ind,SL). An overweight not-so-tall bowler holds the record for max number of test wickets. And till abt a decade ago, an extremely short male from india held the record for most runs in test cricket. Mark Taylor was not exactly the fittest guy, but he held a record number of catches of Warne. Fitness requirements wary from role to role,player to player. In soccer no matter how good the dribbling skills of somebody like I.M.Vijayan, when somebody like romario,powered by Oak-tree legs runs past him, Vijayan can only struggle.

It is then I realised the beauty of the Game. An extremely crafted,complex game which can be played by one-and-all the races, and the balance between physical and mental toughness required is incredible. You can be a champion athlete and yet struggle against paunchy batsmen. Hopefully the brains behind running the game of cricket will come up with more effective ideas like twenty20 and spread this beautiful game in more countries.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Thats Good Work!

I have often wondered how some of the principles that our parents and teachers tried to inculcate in childhood are discovered by us as a lesson in our twenties or forgotten altogether. A classic case would be how most people in my age decide what is good work and what is pedestrian,trivial and almost deplorable. We were all taught that all work is good and none bad, weren't we? i guess that lesson needs a little amendment considering that we all totally forget it. "That work?, oh! that aint interesting, thats rather boring!!". This attitude slowly grows into a kind of prejudice. We simply dismiss certain domains,departments in the business model as downright mess.

Point one: You really cant wish away anything that doesnt interest you. In any company, clearly the CEO is more critical than the receptionist. But can you do away with the receptionist altogether? So basically all jobs whether interesting or not better be done by somebody. And if somebody is going to do it, He or she better do with some interest in it.

Point two: The prejudice part. When one strongly starts tagging some kind of work as good and some kind of work as bad, you start considering that the people doing those bad jobs are inferior. Now that is quite a sick attitude. He or She probably finds it interesting, or maybe not but thats really not your business and you should respect the person no matter what job he does.

Point three: The flip side of the prejudice. There is a kind of "positive prejudice" to the above mentioned case too. Since you have already tagged some kind of work as good, whenever you meet a person from that "good" job, he is automatically raised to a pedestal higher than others. Now that, though not sick, is rather naive. Most of us love watching films but do we appreciate all the actors?? I am a big fan of cricket. But there is no sense in appreciating somebody like say, vikram rathore(remember the leaden-footed opener?). Appreciate for what exceptional achievement they had in their jobs. Not every CEO is worth writing home about, right?

So the principle should be something like.."All jobs are good. Find what motivates you the most". That is probably what even the prejudiced people trying to do. There are jobs that motivates them a lot, and they badly want to be there. Downgrading everything else is not exactly the right approach.

Here,Steve jobs says something motivating about finding THE WORK.