Sheer Melody

A mole's eye-view of the Cosmos

Two movies...

A few days back, I had an argument – rather, a very animated discussion with one of my friends regarding the state of Bollywood cinema. Frankly, I don’t hold Bollywood in extremely high esteem with its high-brow performances and lack of subtlety; and relish any argument on the same. In the course of the discussion, and several other related discussions I have had with people – I have found this retort a common one – “What about Black and Rang de Basanti?

I have watched both these movies; in cinema theatres and liked neither. The only saving grace for Rang de Basanti was that it was bearable and the first half was quite engaging. Regarding, Black – it was one of the sloppiest pieces of film-making that one has ever seen.

Rang de Basanti starts well. In fact, everything seems fine up till the point of the plane crash, when suddenly the movie changes tone and stops making any kind of sense whatsoever. There is no doubt that the movie is a cinematic venture of great courage and motivation – but the amount of sentimental and preposterous drivel that the second half dishes out ruins it totally. The first half is not perfect or extremely engaging either. The sepia-tinted drama in which the protagonists play parts of the fighters in the freedom struggle is clumsy and high-brow, to say the least. What surprises, astonishes and makes me cringe in disbelief is the manner in which the second half of the movie manages to stretch all boundaries of identifiable logic. Seriously, equating a lathi-charge to the Jalianwala Bagh massacre? It made no sense to me as I watched the movie – and makes even lesser sense right now – as I have had time to think and ponder on the director’s idea behind the simile. The stupidest part of the entire movie by far was storming the AIR building by Black Cat Commandoes. Again made no sense, and I was wondering if the government would resort to an army of over hundred commandoes to subdue (and later kill) a group of five to six young hot-headed people.

People have justified the movie, its action and the portrayal of its skewed image of justice and retribution by arguing that it’s a piece of fiction and should not be taken seriously. What I find tough to swallow in this piece of argument is how could a movie which is meant to awaken a generation resort to such meaningless tripe to get its message across. Frankly, if the movie was so honest about the fictitiousness of its characters and the total innocence of its plot, I found no need in the director and producers to advertise it as a message to the youth of today. The bottom-line remains, that if you kill, murder or hurt a person or a group of persons, expect retaliation in equivalent forms of violence. The glorification of taking the law into one’s own hands, and the subtle backing which it provides to a violent uprising in the youth against the politics of today doesn’t necessarily signify a great piece of movie-making. The fake show of patriotism all through the length of the movie doesn’t impress and make the experience any better.

Making a politically motivated movie is not an easy task and Rakesh Mehra, quite simply has made a mess of the whole thing. Rang de Basanti has been lauded everywhere as a supreme achievement in Indian film-making, however its contrived storyline on top of a lackluster plot prodding you all through the movie to rise and make a difference fails to impress. I meant, impress me… What stand out however are the rather distinctly original performances from all the lead actors and extremely well-done music… If I were asked to name one saving grace of the movie – it would have to be Rehman’s impeccable tune-making skills…

Regarding Black, I found the movie depressing, full of unduly over-rated theatrical gimmicks. To be quite frank, I don’t like a movie which is so dialogue dependant, and music dependant that one loses track of the screenplay. Black has little or none of it. The movie has its good points, nice color, and beautiful scenery; but again – I would have watched National Geographic for the same thing with a more fulfilling and satisfying result… The point I am trying to make is simple; when I watch a movie; I don’t want it to portray dialogues as the saving grace when the point it is trying to make is something totally different – in this case – the emergence of a child as an understanding woman in-spite of her blindness. I don’t want the movie to try and impress me with its soundtrack when it falls flat in trying to show emotion or evoke emotion in the audience. And a movie is meant to be short and thought-provoking; of which Black was none… Dragging on for the best part of three hours, the movie evokes nothing – neither emotion, nor sentiment, not even a bit of thought. And people have hailed it as a masterpiece – a landmark Indian movie. Sorry to say – but I find it at the bottom of the ladder as far as masterful, insightful and great movies are concerned!!!

1 Responses to “Two movies...”

  1. # Blogger NightWatchmen

    Heres my take:

    1. Black was me (in Bills words) "at my masochistic best" I still have no idea why I went and watched that movie knowing fully well what people like Sanjay Leela Bhansali are capable of. If ever I wanted to organise a puke festival I would probably put it as #1.

    2. When one is surrounded by mediocrity all around a movie which has probably 10 mins of decent stuff in it becomes appreciated as a great movie. Thats whats happened with Rang De Basanti or as my co-blogger calls it Wrong Day Basanti.

    About Bollywood there are still some decent movies made once in a while which are worth watching though not quite popular.  

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