Monday, July 18, 2011


We are fast turning into a nation of idiots. How else would you explain the raging popularity of Imran Khan's Delhi Belly? Thanks to a song, the movie hurtled into the Indian teen consciousness and in their defence, it is a rather catchy number. The movie, as movies tend to do, went on to release and became an instant hit. My FaceBook profile was full of updates about how everyone that watched the movie had aching jaws, stitches in their respective sides and the other symptoms one might get from laughing too hard. I was intensely curious and wanted to watch the movie, ignoring the warning bell that went off in my head. All teeny-boppers seemed to worship the by now massively-popular movie and that, to me, should have been warning enough, but I chose to ignore it. And I paid for it. Boy, did I pay for it and how!

Delhi Belly is one of those inexplicably trashy movies that seem to have been made without an iota of thought on the part of those that made it. The movie was shot in English and was also dubbed in Hindi. But Hyderabad being Hyderabad, the distributors released just the Hindi version and thanks to them, I had to endure 100 minutes of a putrid, stinking mess with generous doses of gaseous emissions.

I tried. Believe me. I tried my best to get involved in the movie. To even laugh at it. But I failed. I just couldn't bring myself to laugh at the cheap gags. I mean, who in their right minds would laugh at a scene where indigestion and bowel movements take precedence? I realise that I just framed a self-explanatory question, but that is my current state of mind. I fail to understand where has good taste disappeared to? Has the humour in the Indian film industry started evolving backwards? It is hard to believe this is the same industry that produced gems such as Hera Pheri.

How irritating is it to watch a Hindi film shot in English and dubbed in Hindi? That's just plain ridiculous! The movie lacks story, the characters lack depth. In fact, the depth in the story probably is a function of the depth of the director's insight.

The music in the movie is uninspired, the jokes (yes, I tend to repeat myself) fall flat on their faces and manage to trip the actors in the process, the acting is worse than two-dimensional. The protagonist poses as a wannabe serious-minded journalist who dresses up like he's yesterday's leftover food. And there's plenty of that too, on display.

Going by how much popularity this movie has garnered, I can only see a future where hundreds of similar movies are made. Does anybody remember the gangster fetish kicked off by Ram Gopal Varma or the slew of youthful love stories in Telugu cinema?

In a nutshell (a rotten one, at that), Delhi Belly is one of the worst movies I have ever had the misfortune of having to endure. In my opinion, it's akin to a disgusting, fetid, rotten animal carcass. Shit certainly does happen. Delhi Belly is proof.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Genius strikes back

Ram Gopal Varma has finally made a comeback, and how! For a long, despairing while, it seemed like the maverick director, responsible for hits such as Satya, Company, and not to forget, his very first film, Shiva, had lost his touch.
He produced a string of flops and his career graph seemed to sink rapidly and was in the danger of dipping below the horizon. But that was only his career graph, and thankfully, not his belief in himself. For, RGV, going by all the video graphic evidence, was his usual dry, arrogant and sarcastic self.

Like all clouds have a silver lining, and all tunnels have light at the end, so did the depressing run of RGV's dark days. Sometime back (I forget exactly when), RGV announced he would be making a film on the life of (in)famous Paritala Ravindra, who died a violent death in 2005. The title of the film was announced as "Rakht Charitra". RGV was so occupied with thuis project, that he devoted little time or attention to other projects, and the result was the little more than mediocre Rann. While the fact that RGV was going great guns the "RC" might have been the truth, all the common, movie going public could perceive was yet another flop from the "RGV factory", and soon, there were very few believers left.

But I remained a believer, and duly, when anybody would argue against RGV, I would argue for him. "Just wait for Rakht Charitra," I would say, "and you will see Varma make a grand comeback." But only I knew that my arguments were laced with more than a hint of desperate hope. The core of my belief in everything RGV was beginning to waver, and my voice had begun to quiver. But I still believed. The D-Day arrived, and Rakhta Charitra released in the theatres. And my belief in RGV stood vindicated.

With the bloody Rakht Charitra saga, telling the tale of rise, and fall of Paritala Ravi, RGV had successfully made a thumping comeback, and proved to one and all that on his day, and as a director, he is second to none.
I will not go into the story. I’m sure everybody who has or hasn’t watched the movie knows the story. Let’s instead focus a bit on the man himself, Ram Gopal Varma. RGV has always shown us that he is the past master of attention to detail. He also does not shy away from taking potshots at everyone. He does both with great gusto in this film. About two years ago, when I met RGV, I had, albeit briefly, spoken to him about the influence of “The Godfather” on his very first film, Shiva. RGV, very casually says “I think all my movies have traces of The Godfather in them.” That stands true for Rakhta Charitra, too.

Let’s look at the parallels – The Godfather is about a young man (Michael Corleone), who is reluctantly thrust into the violent world of the New York underworld after his father (Don Vito Corleone) is attacked, and his elder brother (Sonny) is brutally murdered. Rakhta Charitra, is about a young man (Pratap Ravi), who is violently initiated into the world of Rayalaseema politics, fractured by faction violence, after his father and his elder brother are murdered. In both films, the protagonist, after initial reluctance, through sheer force of personality, and inherent cunning, manages to rise to the occasion magnificently.

Then, coming to the the two movies. I love the way NTR was portrayed in the first film as Shivaji Rao (Shatrughan Sinha). Facing a task of considerable difficulty – that of playing a
venerated figure like NTR, Sinha just focused on the larger than life persona of the late actor, and thus, manages to hit the nail squarely on the head. His every facial expression, every inflection in the voice, every gesture is designed to shock and awe and enthrall. In short, Shatrughan Sinha plays the role like it is meant to be – A veteran of the silver screen, becoming a leader of men.

Viveik Oberoi does a magnificent job playing Pratap Ravi. Simply put, he turns in what is the best performance of his start stop career. He began his career in resplendent fashion, under Varma’s tutelage in Company.
After that his career never took off. With Rakhta Charitra, it can be said that Viveik Oberoi has risen from the ashes like the proverbial phoenix.

While I was intensely curious about how these two roles would be played, the thing that interested me the most, was how RGV would portray a lot of politically sensitive elements. Everybody knows NTR set up the Telugu Desam Party, which, back then, had the Bicycle for its symbol, and it would take a lot for RGV to portray that party without raising too many hackles. He does that. The party does have yellow as a major colour, and a bicycle, in various forms, keeps popping up in the frame. This Freudian use of implied inference, is a masterstroke by the director. It doesn’t stop here. RGV does a deft job of portraying the late Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy, the former AP CM. YSR was a key player in the Paritala Ravi saga, and RGV just had to find a way to portray the Congress party, and the man himself.

YSR, is portrayed as a man whose face is never shown, but his cut-outs of political rallies, and a framed photo in his house prominently feature his right hand. As we all know, YSR was a man given to expansive gestures with his right hand, which has become a signature of sorts. The fact that this illusive man is accompanied by a Safari suit wearing confidante, ala YSR’s close friend KVP Ramachandra Rao, only goes on to strengthen this. The Congress Party, here, is portrayed with a close fist, as opposed to an open palm. With this RGV completes a hat-trick of sorts. The infamous Moddu Seenu – the man who confessed to killing Ravi, and who was later murdered inside Jail, is shown here has Muddu Krishna. After Ravi’s assassination, ‘Muddu’, as he is called in the film, declares he is responsible for Ravi’s death. He also goes on to say he killed Ravi to avenge the deaths of Surya’s family, just like it happened in real life.

In short, while Rakhta Charitra has its flaws and plot shortcomings, it is a movie that would be rated right up there with Ram Gopal Varma’s best.

Topic is over

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The leading idiot

That the Telugu Film Industry, 'Tollywood' (stop snickering!) produces movies ranging from the bad to the worse with dedication and discipline is a fact that is unknown to very few, seeing as how the industry is inhabited, and indeed dominated by filmmakers equipped with ever dwindling IQ. If any of you reading this are thinking about contesting this statement of mine, thank you my friends, but your services are no longer required on this planet. You are now free to kill your resepctive selves in whichever manner you deem fit, or unfit, as the case may be. However, it must take a special kind of idiot to make a movie that is as cringe worthy,, and as retarded as Daggubati Rana's debut vehicle, LEADER. That special kind of idiot, is the director, Shekhar Kammula.

Now I sincerely do not know whether Shekhar Kammula actually believes his movies are any good, or whether he has been fooled into thinking so. If the latter is true, I'm baffled by what ulterior motives lay behind such an inhuman act. The act is inhuman not because of the false sense of aesthetic superiority that the 'director' has been lulled into. It is inhuman because of the kind of tripe the few discerning humans among us audiences are subjected to. As if the over hyped, overrated, and equally, if not more (in comparison with the subject of my rant, LEADER)cringe worthy "HAPPY DAYS" wasn't bad enough, Shekhar Kammula, due to mystifying brainwave, decided to make a movie that will tap into the dormant political consciousness of the general movie going public, and make them more politically dynamic. Sadly, however, that idea seems to have died in gestation, as what the final product is, however, is a movie that is full of hammy acting, even hammier acting, bad...nay... worse dialogues... a plot line that is filled with more holes than a fisherman's net. To top it all, the movie was skippered by a director, who seemed to have abandoned all good sense, including a sense of direction, to the four winds (A bad pun, but it'll have to do).

Enough talk about the non-specifics that have gone into making this movie. On to this movie itself. The basic plot line is this - The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, is the victim of an assassination attempt. Just like every bad movie demands, the CM, after a protracted battle in the ICU, dies. Now here, we have a few interesting things to take note of. The incredibly yawn-inducing battle with death, is, in fact, a cunning plot device inserted to establish a background to the movie. In this case, the background is the dirty world of politics, where everything takes a backseat to hunger for power. At this juncture enters the CM's gormless, expressionless, senseless, and talentless son, Arjun Prasad. The poor boy, being in the US, studying for his masters, seems to have no clue that his daddy-dearest, is an Indian politician (Indian politician is a politically correct way of saying "corrupt", FYI). Hence, after his father's death (to which we add the mother of all 'icing-on-the-cake' effects - the dying father's last words - the son should become the Chief Minister), the son is horrified to discover the true extent of his father's corruption. So with steely resolve devoid of all facial expression, he sets himself on a personal mission - that of cleaning up the state politics. Good luck, son! Anyhow, on we go...

So, the hitherto political retard, is now an overnight politician, complete with arm-candy (a suitably dumb looking Priya Anand). He, with consummate ease, spins political webs, trapping his father's adversaries, and attracting his father's allies, and soon, manages to occupy the CM's Gaddi. Funny thing here is, our fresh pup of a CM is on a mission to eradicate corruption, yet, he has no qualms about bribing politicians and officials left, right and centre. Tired of his operation clean-up, the politicians now hatch a plot against him. So now, our hero thinks of yet another cunning plan (again devoid of all facial expression). The government's main political ally, very conveniently, has a daughter, who is just ripe for the plucking. Moreover, she is a social activist, who goes around calling the CM on his personal mobile. So the CM, with speed of thinking that would fail to surprise even Dr Manmohan Singh (equipped with his sunday best expression of surprise), decides to "romance" the daughter to bag the father's support. He does that, and yet fails to uphold his government. The young CM is in quandary now. The very values that he has sworn to uphold, he is now forced to betray just to keep the government alive. To hell with it, he thinks, and decides to fight it on his own, including his very own Padayatra (a favourite pastime of Indian politicians). He wins, gets sworn back in as Chief Minister (must be a record of sorts, an idiot getting elected as Chief Minister of state twice in a row. Are we smart or what!).

'Nuff said about the movie. In a nutshell, the movie is made of bad acting, terrible writing and downright horrendous directing (if there was any direction, that is). Nothing surprising, as every other Telugu movie can boast of the same. Why did I pick on Leader, then? Well, I had to start somewhere, eh? Rana Daggubati might become a good actor eventually, but there's very little evidence of that in his first film. Shekhar Kammula can't direct to save his life, and there is a lot of evidence of that. Don't make me go into the details again. Rana can't act, Shekhar Kammula can neither direct, nor write. And I can't watch. Such a happy family, eh?

I will end this rather abruptly by quoting my current favourite onscreen politician, Shivaji Rao (Rakht Charitra). Topic is over!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Once upon a time...

It is a bizarre train of events that led me to watch 'Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai'. I was watching an old episode of Karan Thapar's 'Devil's Advocate'. It was the Devil's interview of that maverick daddy of all criminal lawyers - Ram Jethmalani. Karan Thapar questions Jethmalani about choosing to defend the then-prime accused in the Jessica Lal murder case, Manu Sharma. He questions Jethmalani's motives for picking some of the most notorious figures of all time. Of those, two names caught my fancy. One was that of Afzal Guru, the convict in the Parliament House attack case, and the other, was the infamous Mumbai gangster, Haji Mastan. There is something about that name that grabbed my attention. I looked him up on the internet, and then a chain of websites informed me that Haji Mastan has inspired Ajay Devgn's character in 'Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai'.

I've always had an unhealthy and ill-advised fascination for Gangster films. The Godfather trilogy, Scarface, Once Upon a Time in America, Goodfellas.... the list goes on.

But, Haji Mastan is the only reason I watched "Mumbaai", a movie that I otherwise would have religiously avoided, as it stars Emraan Hashmi - a man I really wish was born as a Jew in World War II Germany.

Anyhow, thanks to a post-midnight impulse, I booked myself a ticket and watched the film. And what a film it was, too!

The film shows the arrival and the rise of Sultan Mirza in Mumbai underworld. the character is played in fantastic fashion by Ajay Devgn, who apart from his signature brooding intensity, also brings undeniable charm, and old school style to the table. Style that was in vogue in 1970's Bombay. Milan Luthria, the director, has pulled off an amazing feat when he recreated the look, and the feel of Bombay, as it was then called.

Ajay Devgn, with his mind ruling his business, and his heart ruling his mind, starts conquering Bombay. And by "Conquering", I don't mean a bloody, "guns-and-knives" take over of Bombay. I mean conquering the hearts of people of Bombay. 'Sultan bhai', becomes the champion of the poor, the down-trodden, and the disenfranchised people of Bombay. his rise to the top is swift, and telling. Kids want to be like Sultan Mirza, and that, like nothing else, tells us about the kind of impact Sultan has had on Bombay.

And as is inevitable, Sultan starts attracting young men, of a shady persuasion, like moths to flame. Sultan, much like Don Vito Corleone, refuses to deal in drugs or anything that destroys the constitution of a man. He is that ultimate paradoxical cliche - the Honest smuggler.

Now, coming back to that young men of shady persuasion. I'm talking, of course, about Emraan Hashmi's "Shoaib Khan", a character that is, and at the same time, is said to be not, inspired by Dawood Ibrahim. Shoaib Khan has starry and heady dreams of ruling Bombay, and he is willing to take any dirty short cut to reach the top. he starts off as one of Sultan's low rung lieutenants, and works his way up until the inevitable falling out with his mentor, much like Dawood Ibrahim fell out with Haji Mastan.

Simple in terms of story, and powerful, in terms of execution. Milan Luthria extracts some of the best performances seen from his cast in recent times. Ajay Devgn, though he has played the king of the underworld, and other leader-like figures in the past, gives a completely fresh, and spell-binding performance. Kangana Ranaut, as mentioned earlier, plays the role of a 70's glam-doll slash gun moll with superb elan, which is something of trademark. Prachi Desai is serviceable, though she gets a little whiney towards the end. And Emraan Hashmi has given one of his best performances ever, but it is still a bad performance. While Hashmi shows impressive restraint during moments of quiet intensity, he falters when that intensity becomes spontaneous rage. His dialogue delivery becomes strained, his expressions struggle with each other to break out on the face. On the whole, while Emraan Hashmi isn't terrible he isn't convincing either.

A special mention must be made of a cameo put in by Randeep Hooda, who plays his role of a steely eyed cop going after the underworld with brilliance. It is ironic that it was Hooda that played Dawood in 'D-Company'.

And another special mention has to be made of the background score of the film, which is nothing short of gooseflesh-inducing. It is brilliant. It is fantastic. And I love it. The last three sentences hold good when applied to the movie as a whole, too.

Once Upon a Time... is one of those movies that is surely going to have a lot of replay value. No one's complaining, too. Don't miss this movie.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

The ugly and awkward truth

Ram Gopal Varma is one filmmaker who always inspires reaction. Whether it is for his “Devil may care” attitude, whether for being such a master of attention to detail, or for his inspired choice of storylines. RGV has always had a love-hate relationship with the media, and it is evident in his latest film, Rann.

Rann opens with a deftly edited montage reminiscent of a vintage RGV horror flick, and hits the ground running. Like a visual foreword, RGV firmly establishes in the minds of the audience that the average television viewer is the master of the remote control, thus setting up the premise of the movie - the extent to which TV channels would go to get TRPs. There was an incredible amount of buzz surrounding the movie, most of it generated because the movie is centered on the Indian media. Rann, all hyperbole aside, is a gripping film made by a filmmaker who is unparalleled in Indian Cinema. It is a thinking man’s film, and certainly not meant for bored college teens with Attention Deficit Disorder Syndrome (ADDS)

Despite the presence of heavyweights such as Amitabh Bachchan and Paresh Rawal, the movie’s central character is Purab Shastri, played by Riteish Deshmukh, a journalist who idolizes Media Baron Vijay Harshvardhan Malik, the Editor in chief of India 24X7, a news channel. As in most of RGV’s films, there are very strong political undertones to the film.

Firstly, what does not work in the film. RGV, in his endeavour to “expose” the media, goes over the board a bit, by making media-centric sequences seem overtly larger than life at times, and as a consequence, unrealistic. In real life, there is a symbiotic relationship between the media, and politics, and it must be said that Ramu has captured it to near perfection. The camera angles, though largely emotive, do get distracting at times. The background score is inconsistent. It is loud and jarring at times, and sometimes, it does its job, that of enhancing the scene. Thirdly, while the media-centric sequences seem larger than life and to an extent, over the top and unrealistic, the scenes involving political leaders, largely, the Prime Minister of the country, and the leader of the opposition, falter, and seem pale in comparison. It is laughable how the Prime Minister of the country moves around with an almost non-existent security detail. The only security that you can see are a couple of cops who look clearly out of place in the khakhi uniform. Television reporters get access to the Prime Minister of the country as easily as they might to a low rung state level minister. In a political gathering that would normally be massive in scale in real life, in Rann, it is relegated to looking like a political meeting of your local neta. Riteish Deshmukh, in his first serious role in a while, starts in a competent way, looks a little too studiously serious, and has but two expressions in the entire film – frown, frown deeper.

With that out of the way, Rann certainly delivers on the pre-release hype. The movie promises as insider’s look into the media, particularly the electronic media, and that’s exactly what it delivers. Rajpal Yadav’s histrionics as the creative editor of a news channel are scarily accurate, though the initial amusement starts waning towards the end.

The attention to detail as far as news production techniques are spot on, and one can expect no less from Ram Gopal Varma. One of the best scenes in the movie is how a television channel takes an innocent comment, edits it to suit their story and ends up making it look incriminating. Paresh Rawal, back in a serious after a long time as the villainous leader of the opposition Mohan Pandey steals the scene everytime he’s in the frame. He is almost larger than life and caricature like, but deadly accurate at the same time. The excellent Rajat Kapoor, in an attempt to play an unscrupulous business magnate, does not quite do justice to his immense talent. In a sequence where he tries to convince someone to take part in a devious conspiracy, he ends up looking almost pleading rather than manipulative and cunning. That said, he does play his role of Sanjay Shankalya largely with panache. Mohnish Behl, making a comeback to the silver screen after a long time, is offered a plum role, and it must be said that he sinks his teeth into it with relish. He clearly looks like he is enjoying the role of Amrish Kakar, the boss of a rival news channel much given to sensationalism. The lovely Neetu Chandra and Gul Panag have little to do. Suchitra Krishnamoorthi does a good job in the limited role she is given. Riteish Deshmukh is serviceable.

Now for the show stealers. Sudeep, who is going from strength to strength, was cast by RGV as Malik’s son, Jai. He more than holds his own against stalwarts like Amitabh Bachchan and Paresh Rawal, and that is no mean feat. At times, his performance falls a little flat, but not enough to take anything away from his fantastic performance. Amitabh Bachchan once again shows the world just why he is called Big B. He is magnificent in his role as a righteous and ethical journalist who is forced to act against principles due to practicalities. He is spot on with his expressions, especially in the scenes where his expression clearly displays the internal conflict between his conscience, sense of logic and strong sense of ethics. He steals the show in the last five minutes with his impassioned speech on the truly deplorable state of the Indian media. One line sums it all up. Where once, for the media, news was the end with money as the medium, now, money has become the end with news as the medium.

Kudos to Ram Gopal Varma for having the chutzpah to take a not so subtle dig at everyone, including himself, and even the celebrated and controversial Ram Jethmalani.

In conclusion, RGV’s Rann definitely has its weaknesses and is not watertight, but it is one of the most gripping films ever made by RGV. RGV shows us once again why he is considered such a master of attention to detail. While the story could have been pacier, the content more than makes up for it. Ram Gopal Varma, after his recent string of flops, has made a come back in grand style. Rann is gripping, serious, intermittently funny and well made

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Quantum of Solace

Daniel Craig's explosive debut as James bond in Casino Royale did nothing short of skyrocket the already high standards set by Sean Connery even higher. The producers followed that up with a movie that's a first in many aspects. The first ever direct sequel in the history of the 46 year old franchise, Quantum of Solace takes place just under an hour after Casino Royale ends, and hits the ground running. The movie begins with a high octane car chase around the picturesque but dangerously curved roads around Lake Como. James Bond is on the run from a Bunch of Mr. White's thugs, with Mr. White secured in the car's boot. The cars swerve in and out of traffic, not quite managing to avoid vehicles coming in from the opposite direction. What i personally liked in this bit was something most people hated. the shaky camera work. The best part about this movie is it's wide open to interpretation, if you have the patience to do so. According to me, the shaky camera work in a way symbolises James Bond's inner turmoil. After all, it was only a few days back that the man lost the girl he loved, a few hours after he discovers she's a traitor.

The car chase ends with James Bond opening fire for the first time during the chase. Everything settles down to David Arnold's pulsating background score. Bond then finally drags Mr. White into an underground interrogation Chamber. The Interrogation is headed by the boss M herself. The interrogation ends not very satisfactorily, with M finding out the hard way that her personal bodyguard is a traitor working for Mr. White's organization. Bond chases the traitor and it ends in an adrenaline charged fight in an art gallery under disrepair. The leads obtained there lead James bond to Haiti. Another brutal fist fight and a dead body later, James bond runs into the female protagonist of the film, the feisty Camille Montes, played by the dishy Olga Kurylenko. Camille is a part of the shady organisation Mr. White works for and she's pursuing a personal vendetta of her own - to kill deposed Bolivian Dictator General Medrano for what he did to her family. This kicks off another exciting James Bond adventure that is high on action and deep on symbolism.

Many people have claimed they have been unable to make either head or tail of the plot. Ina nutshell, here it is. James Bond, while wanting revenge, is also keen to uncover more details about the organization that killed Vesper Lynd. Camille, is after General Medrano because he tortured and killed the rest of her family. so she infiltrates Dominic Greene's organisation, just to get close to Medrano. Now you might ask what connection Dominic Greene has with General Medrano. Greene is part of the shadowy criminal organisation, Quantum that James Bond is after. His plot is to take over the world's most precious resource, water. He has salted away most of Bolivia's water supply and literally holds the country to ransom. The deposed dictator, General Medrano strikes a deal with Greene, giving him what he wants for helping him back to power. Greene also strikes a deal with the CIA, who're led to believe they're in for a supply of oil. General Medrano thinks likewise, that Greene is after oil. Dominic Greene never explicitly committed to anything even close to oil, which underlines his genius. Now, since all these are interwoven so intricately, they all rush towards an explosive finale.

Director Marc Foster, more than anything, has thematically showed James Bond's journey towards solace in this movie. Nothing is explicitly said. Everything is implied. In that, Quantum of Solace is absolutely brilliant. Firstly, There are major action sequences, mostly chase and fight sequences in all four elements - Earth, Water, Wind and Fire. This, very subtly underlines Mr. White's audacious claim during the interrogation, "We have people everywhere". then throughout the movie, we see hints of James Bond clinging on to the past, without ever explicitly saying it. Initially, while he stoutly denies Vesper is important, we see him slyly pocketing a photograph of Vesper and her lover, Yusef Kabeera. Later on in the movie, Bond is sitting at a bar in an airplane, getting drunk, unable to sleep and staring blankly at the photograph and Vesper's Algerian Love knot necklace. We finally see that James bond has literally let go of the past, when we see the necklace in the snow as the picture fades into black. James Bond has achieved closure.

Just before the climax sequence in the desert, we see a lingering shot of a reptile curling itself around a rock, sunning itself. It's so reminiscent of Ian Fleming. Fleming would have described this sequence in great detail in page one of his book, if he were still alive. Lastly, James bond drags Dominic Greene from the car and leaves him alone in the middle of the desert with nothing but a can of motor oil. While he never says it out loud, James bond has given Greene a choice. He can either choose to die of thirst, like he's caused the deaths of a lot of Bolivians, or he could choose to swallow the motor oil and choke to death, just like he caused the death of Agent Strawberry Fields.

Now, coming to the performances themselves, Daniel Craig is nothing short of magnificent as James Bond, fast becoming, if he hasn't already, the best ever actor to take over the role. I have expressed my views on the same, and now reiterate them. Daniel Craig is a phenomenal actor and fleshes out the character like it has never been done before. He is the best. Period.

Coming to the bond girl, if you thought Vesper Lynd was a strong Bond girl, take a good look at Camille Montes. She pursues her goal, that of killing the General with a ferocity and bloody minded determination seldom seen before in the series. She is very rarely distracted from her path and we can see by the anguish that is etched deep into her face when she tells Bond about her tragedy, that it haunts her for every moment that she is awake, the only respite coming in the moments when she's sleeping, if she manages to sleep.

One of the most profound and satisfying sequences of the film was played out between James bond and Rene Mathis (Giancarlo Gianinni). Mathis is lying on the road, bleeding to death, when James Bond holds him in his arms, to make the passing on a bit more comfortable. Then when he is dead, you can clearly see James bond is fighting hard to hold his tears back even after he dumps Rene Mathis' lifeless body into a nearby garbage dumpster, Mathis' last words ringing in his ears, "Forgiver Her....vesper....forgive yourself!"

This gets even better in the final sequence. James bond is awaiting Yusef Kabeera in an apartment in Kazan, Russia. He's ready with his Walther PPK, knowing very well that one quick bullet to the head would put an end to his pain. then after James Bond warns off Yusef's latest conquest, Corrine, Yusef looks at bond, fear writ large all over his features and he whispers, "Please! Make it quick!". In that instant, James Bond realises that a quick death would serve no purpose. He walks out of the building a while later and is greeted by a waiting M. "Is he still alive?" she asks. when he replies "Yes.", "I'm surprised!", she remarks in response. The audience titters away, their attention span only sufficient to last them the duration of an already too short movie. They fail to realise that she's surprised James Bond left him alive because she knows what this man has put James bond through, that this man is singlehandedly responsible for the death of James Bond's true love.

As James Bond is walking away into the darkness, away from it all, M, in a desperate plea, says "I need you back Bond.". James bond looks over his shoulder, a small smile playing on his lips. We slowly see him returning to the spy we saw in Casino Royale, that very embodiment of the literary and cinematic James Bond that has endlessly fascinated the world for close to 5 decades and will continue to do so for more decades to come. We know James bond has truly arrived when the iconic gun barrel flashes across the screen. James Bond has earned his stripes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Madness is like gravity..

Well over three months after its release, i'm yet to get over The Dark Knight. I did not quite know what to expect when i walked into the cinema hall on the evening of the 18th this July. Then the film began and this is an honest attempt to sort the jumbled mess in my head into some sort of coherent ramblings of a fan..

First of all, if the late and lamented Mr. Heath Ledger was still alive, i would ask him to take a bow. I, like all others before me, would like to begin discussing The Dark Knight with the villain, The Joker, played with such delicious malevolence by Heath Ledger.
Watching this film makes us all feel acutely for Heath Ledger's death. Every moment The Joker is on screen is spell binding and riveting. Right from the first moment the joker is revealed in all his gory splendour on screen and says the first of the several memorable lines, "I believe...whatever doesn't kill you, simply makes you stranger"

Heath Ledger has completely immersed himself into this role. Look as hard as you might but you will fail in finding the golden haired actor with the rich baritone. You will, however, discover an an anarchic criminal mastermind, who spins the people around him into an inescapable web of lies and murder, deceit and terror...all in their rawest, most primeval forms. Like the director has been insisting all along, we get The Joker as a finished product, we dont get any clever little origin story explaining either his cracked make-up, or his wait a minute....did i just say scars?

I'm sure the two of you who still haven't watched The Dark Knight would like to know how the joker got his scars....too bad, you gotta watch the movie. Twice does the joker give us a tale about how he got those scars, and it is on the second time around do we realize that The Joker is a brilliant psychopath who's just making the tales up as he's telling them. That it's just a tool he's employed to paint the audience with more ambiguity as to his origins. The Joker also delivers some of the best lines in a movie ever. Heath Ledger has delivered a performance to last a lifetime and quite easily the best screen villain in all time. All the hype and hoopla surrounding the Dark Knight and Heath's performance has been justified, as has all the oscar Buzz. At the very least, Heath Ledger deserves to be handed the Academy Award for the best supporting actor, if not for the best actor.

Reluctantly moving on to Christian Bale's equally significant and brilliant performance. As Bruce Wayne, Christian Bale manages to brilliantly switch between the playboy billionaire nobody seems to take seriously and the man who's dealing with a lot of pain, a tortured soul fighting two battles at once. On one hand, as the Batman, he must fight the "scum of Gotham's underbelly (thanks Alfred!)", and on the other hand, he must fight the temptation to completely lose the Bruce Wayne facade and completely immerse himself into who he really is......The Batman.

Bale does a magnificent job in conveying all the emotions through mere expressions. Next up is James Gordon, played with wonderful subtlety by by the ever reliable Gary Oldman. Oldman plays the character with a quiet sense of suffering and unshakeable integrity and sense of justice. Discounting the buffoon that Commissioner Gordon was portrayed to be in the previous Batman films, this is the real deal. The best line of the whole movie, the best dialogue sequence, rather, is Gordon's epic speech at the very end of the movie....."A silent guardian....a watchful protector......a Dark Knight."

Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, though having nothing much to do, shine in their few brief moment of screentime. Special mention must be made of Maggie Gyllenhaal, who displays incredible maturity in handling the more difficult emotions during her final moments in the film, a feat Katie Holmes would never have pulled off. Kudos to Nolan and co. for the move.

Aaron Eckhart plays the American Symbol of hope quite easily. Dubbed Gotham's "White Knight", he brings fresh hope to gotham city. The standout of the whole performance is the way he displayed his slowly deteriorating mental condition throughout the m0vie- from a completely unflapable district attorney to a raving madman. It can be no secret that Harvey Dent eventually becomes the villain called the Two-Face and his transformation is masterfully displayed here.

The magnificent score by James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer makes a great movie truly epic. The music adds a dark atmosphere to the movie.

By the end, the future for gotham is very bleak and can make fans like me only look forward to the next with growing impatience. Come awards season, i fully expect The Dark Knight to make away with all the top honours. At the very least, an Oscar for Heath Ledger and for the best original score...

note:- This "rambling" is dedicated to Heath Ledger. RIP (1979-2008)

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