Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
At the outset, I have to confess that I didn’t watch a lot of Ram Gopal Varma’s “Rakht Charitra”. Most of the scenes have so much blood and gore and what can only be described as disgusting methods of killing a human being that you are forced to avert your eyes.
The film, based on the true story of Andhra politician Paritala Ravi, is less of a portrait of his time and life, and more of a gory chronicle of the bloody revenge saga he and his rivals are engaged in.
Vivek Oberoi plays Prakash Ravi, the son of a local politician who is killed by his one-time mentor. Determined to take revenge when his elder brother is also killed, he transforms from college student to fugitive, hiding in the jungles and surfacing only to eliminate his father’s killers.
The film traces his journey from a murderer to political leader, a minister in the cabinet with a swanky house of his own, a far cry from his makeshift shelter in the jungles.
I have a serious complaint against lovers in Bollywood films. Even if they know where the other person stays and can easily deliver the “I love you” speech at the lover’s house, they insist on hanging off a cliff or climbing atop a bridge from where they can declare their undying love for each other. Don’t they realise how ridiculous it looks?
As you can guess, the above rant is inspired by a scene in Abbas Tyrewala’s “Jhootha Hi Sahi“, a dreary and dull rom-com that features perhaps the most wooden performances by a lead pair that I can remember and a lot of inane situations like the one described above.
It must take a lot of talent to take one of the greatest stories ever told and turn it into a mediocre, boring tale that makes you yearn for Ramanand Sagar to make a comeback with his serialised ‘Ramayana’.
Chetan Desai’s “Ramayana – The Epic”, an animated version, tells you nothing new but manages to make one of Hinduism’s most revered epics and its characters tacky, B-grade Bollywood extras who uses phrases like “marvayega tu” and sing rap songs in the middle of a jungle before going out to fight against Ravana.
Use a ruler to draw a straight line. Then try to draw another straight line freehand. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you get it all wrong.
“Aakrosh” which has been ‘filmed’ by Priyadarshan gets it absolutely right, Bollywood style.
Watching Rishi and Neetu Kapoor on screen is truly such a pleasure. The couple have lost none of the effervescence they had a couple of decades ago – the chemistry still sparkles, as do their eyes and you are hooked.
They are the Duggals in director Habib Faisal’s “Do Dooni Chaar”, a gentle comedy about a middle-class high school teacher who wants to buy a car for his family, but finds that he can’t afford to on his very meagre teacher’s salary.
Making a film with just two characters and about their journey towards love is a concept that has worked quite well in the past.
The Ethan Hawke starrer “Before Sunrise” and its sequel “Before Sunset” come to mind immediately. These films had at their centre a great love story between two very interesting people and their interaction with each other itself was enough to take the story forward.
I could write a regular review of the Rajnikanth-starrer “Robot” as I do almost every week. I could give you the story outline and list out the positives and negatives, talk about the performances. But that would make no difference because most people are going to watch this film anyway. And no matter how absurd the storyline might be, you cannot escape the sheer star power of Rajnikanth. He makes even the most ridiculous scenes and plot lines look entirely stylish and believable.
So, in a departure from the usual drill, here are some thoughts on ”Robot” rather than a regular review
Instead, it was just a melody that served as a background. Given the memorable music of his earlier films, there are a lot of expectations from this one.
Anurag Kashyap hasn’t slept in four days. He’s been writing his next film and doesn’t want to stop till it is done. When I walk into his suburban terrace apartment, Kashyap is beaming because he’s just finished writing the climax and he is very happy with it.
He offers you some tea, shows you clips from his new film “That Girl in Yellow Boots” which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, all the while chatting animatedly with his assistants about shooting schedules and movies.